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The New Deal: A Modern History Hardcover – September 13, 2011

28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Hiltzik tells the dam's tale well, with majestic sweep and a degree of detail; every iota of material fits snugly into the narrative, which, unlike the river, flows freely.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Detailed and vividly written – destined to be the standard history for decades to come.”
Washington Post

“[A] superb new history of the dam's conception, construction and legacy… And in Hiltzik's hands, it makes very good history, indeed.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

 “The parade of grim particulars might make Colossus a depressing read were it not for the vigor of Hiltzik's prose and the lively gallery of individual portraits and anecdotes that convey a wonderfully textured sense of what it was like to work on Hoover Dam.”
Los Angeles Times

“In the grand tradition of David McCullough, Mr. Hiltzik clearly explains the technological and physical difficulties posed by the dam project, but he also fixes the endeavor in its time and captures the personalities of the people involved. May inspire in readers a longing for something . . . that will summon up once again America’s famous self-confidence and daring. A national monument to the American can-do spirit.” —John Steele Gordon, The Wall Street Journal

About the Author

Michael Hiltzik is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author who has covered business, technology, and public policy for the Los Angeles Times for three decades. He currently serves as the Times’s business columnist and hosts its business blog, The Economy Hub. His books include Big Science, The New Deal, Colossus, Dealers of Lightning, and The Plot Against Social Security. Mr. Hiltzik received the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for articles exposing corruption in the entertainment industry. He lives in Southern California with his wife and two children. Follow him on Twitter @HiltzikM.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; FIRST PRINT edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439154481
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439154489
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #869,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Burr B. Elliott Jr. on November 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I purchased this book, I figured that I would be getting either a nasty attack book or a slobbering love affair book. After reading it, I can testify that, although the author exposes his very liberal bias in the summations at the end, the body of the text was even-handed. I found the groupings of subject matter within chapters to be well chosen. The focus on the personalities surrounding President Roosevelt helped to carry the narrative along. The personality of President Roosevelt that emerges helps explain the ups and downs of the New Deal era. The notes and the bibliography give me confidence to trust the characterizations and the conclusions that Mr. Hiltzik draws. I recommend the book for those interested in the details of the New Deal and for those who want to learn more about the period between World War I and World War II.
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47 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Todd Carlsen on September 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Highest recommendation! "The New Deal: A Modern History" by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Hiltzik is an excellent, complete, thorough, fair and balanced history of the New Deal. The writing is easy to read and at times gripping.

Besides the Pulitzer Prize, the author previously won the Gerald Lobe Award for excellence in business and finance reporting, and he was awarded the Silver Gavel from the American Bar.

I think this history is the benchmark book on the Great Depression and New Deal, because I have read many books on the World War II and Great Depression era. The book is strong at detailing the energetic and multifaceted response by the Franklin Roosevelt administration to confront the economic disaster that had put millions of workers out of work before FDR took office, making history (with some messiness) as they went along.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's response to the Great Depression was pragmatic, sometimes experimental, sometimes borrowing from Republicans and sometimes from Democrats, sometimes messy, sometimes very politically charged, and occasionally contradictory. The New Deal was formulated by New Dealers like Frances Perkins, the first woman cabinet secretary and an architect of Social Security, Harold Ickes, a progressive Republican and leader of infrastructure investments, Harry Hopkins, a social worker and relief administrator, and others in the so-called "Brain Trust." All the New Deal initiatives are described exceptionally well in this book.
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38 of 49 people found the following review helpful By The Peripatetic Reader on October 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The New Deal

Alexis de Tocqueville made an astute observation in his book, Democracy in America. He stated that Europeans and Americans have a fundmentally different approach to historical interpretation. Europeans interpret history in terms of social movements and in the context of historical trends. Americans interpret history as the result of the actions of historical personalities. The American Revolution therefore is not viewed as the result of Enlightenment ideals applied to the Colonies, but the result of the efforts of Founding Fathers. Europeans look at the forest, Americans only see the trees.

Consistent with de Tocqueville's analysis, the main failing of the author's book is that it concentrates completely on the efforts of Roosevelt and his advisors in crafting the New Deal legislation. However, FDR did not operate in a vacuum. He was influenced by the thoughts of his advisors, yes, but also by the social forces at work during the Great Depression. The book downplays those outside forces to the point of avoidance, the social events which literally forced Roosevelt to enact more daring legislation. It makes only a fleeting mention of the Bonus Army of 1932, a memorial event consisting of protesting WWI veterans, and entirely fails to mention the numerous other strikes, marches and demonstrations which occurred afterwards which forced Roosevelt's hand to enact the more meaningful New Deal legislation which we are all familiar with which had regulated the economic and financial affairs of this country and which had operated very nicely until it was so unceremoniously repealed in the 90s and 2000s. Other reviews have mentioned that it is an even-handed account of the New Deal.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By PMBOOK on December 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Many have said that FDR's efforts in the New Deal did not significantly reduce unemployment from the 25% that existed in early 1933. Hiltzik reports that the unemployment rate declined to 9% in 1937 when, under pressure from Republicans and conservative Democrats. he cut stimulus spending. A further depression resulted causing unemployment to reach 14% by 1940. The beginning and ending figures are often used to claim that it was World War II that ended the depression and that Keynesian economics as applied by FDR were a failure. It astonished this reviewer to find that this claim is not really true and further that Keynesian principles were only partly applied. Current politicians who press for a balanced budget during the present depression should read this book.

This reviewer had not realized how the farm depression had existed for a decade before the great depression due to over expansion of farm production during the first world war, a production excess no longer needed once European production ramped up again. Thus FDR's first priority was to address this issue. The book is highly condensed yet gives a concise description of how and why many actions by FDR were taken, pragmatic, political or unwise such as the attempt to pack the Supreme Court following its ruling that the NRA was illegal. The book contains fascinating minibiographies of many players in the New Deal, the aides, the cabinet secretaries, the speech writers, the politicians and the judiciary. I highly recommend this book for someone like myself (grew up in another country) who had little knowledge of the period.
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