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

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, September 13, 2011
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Editorial Reviews


“Makes fascinating reading for a nation facing many of the same problems it confronted, and conquered, 80 years ago.” –Philadelphia Inquirer

Mr. Hiltzik presents the New Deal as an adventure made all the more thrilling by the uncertainty of its outcome—‘a work in progress from its beginning to end’—and one that sustained democracy by keeping America from social and economic collapse.”—The Wall Street Journal

Hiltzik gives a thrilling sense of the sweaty, seamy personal side of politics…the extent to which the various provisions of the New Deal were a non-ideological improvisation, hectic, driven, often fizzling and failing. Yet the big picture effects were swift and direct: 11.5 million people were unemployed in 1932; 6.2 million at the end of 1938. Pertinent, timely.” —Los Angeles Times

“A sweeping, lively survey… [written] with panache and skill…A timely, well-executed overview of the program that laid the foundation for the modern progressive state.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Terrific, energetically written and eminently readable….narrated with vigorous prose, a clear-sighted appreciation of just what motivated FDR and his allies, and a modern understanding of what they actually accomplished. And unlike the doorstop histories, you'll finish it quickly enough to be left wishing for more.” —Mother Jones

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 twenty years. In that time he has served as a financial and political writer, an investigative reporter, and as a foreign correspondent in Africa and Russia. He currently serves as the Times business columnist. His other books include The Plot Against Social Security (2005), Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age (1999), and A Death in Kenya (1995). Mr. Hiltzik received the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for articles exposing corruption in the entertainment industry. Among his other awards for excellence in reporting are the 2004 Gerald Loeb Award for outstanding business commentary and the Silver Gavel from the American Bar Association for outstanding legal reporting. A graduate of Colgate University, Mr. Hiltzik received a master of science degree in journalism from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in 1974. He lives in Southern California with his wife and two children.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439154481
  • ASIN: B006QS041K
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,074,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 54 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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12 of 12 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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36 of 47 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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