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The Great Depression: 1929-1939 by [Berton, Pierre]
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The Great Depression: 1929-1939 Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"The Great Depression is the definitive work that will carry our collective memory with us into the next century." —Calgary Herald

"Berton's chilling magnum opus… [He] has produced something very near perfect. It's clearly written, fast-moving…and so well drafted it reads like a novel." —The Times Colonist, Victoria

"a scalding indictment of the law, big business, the bigots, the police and politicians." —Canadian Press

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

Over 1.5 million Canadians were on relief, one in five was a public dependant, and 70,000 young men travelled like hoboes. Ordinary citizens were rioting in the streets, but their demonstrations met with indifference, and dissidents were jailed. Canada emerged from the Great Depression a different nation.
The most searing decade in Canada's history began with the stock market crash of 1929 and ended with the Second World War. With formidable story-telling powers, Berton reconstructs its engrossing events vividly: the Regina Riot, the Great Birth Control Trial, the black blizzards of the dust bowl and the rise of Social Credit. The extraordinary cast of characters includes Prime Minister Mackenzie King, who praised Hitler and Mussolini but thought Winston Churchill "one of the most dangerous men I have ever known"; Maurice Duplessis, who padlocked the homes of private citizens for their political opinions; and Tim Buck, the Communist leader who narrowly escaped murder in Kingston Penitentiary.
In this #1 best-selling book, Berton proves that Canada's political leaders failed to take the bold steps necessary to deal with the mass unemployment, drought and despair. A child of the era, he writes passionately of people starving in the midst of plenty.

Product Details

  • File Size: 4318 KB
  • Print Length: 562 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Canada (February 21, 2012)
  • Publication Date: February 21, 2012
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004HW6GQY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #988,035 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a compelling, often chilling, account of this period in Canadian history, and is also a fair warning regarding the future. I found this tragic story of the depression in Canada to be an eye-opener. Being one of the "nice Canadians", as well as being too young to have any personal experience of this time, it will certainly change the way in which I view our past. Written in typically well-researched and entertaining Berton-style, this is a should-read for every Canadian and any history buff. Other books by Pierre Berton that I recently read and enjoyed were "Niagara" and "The Dionne Years".
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like the rest of the world, Canada experienced great hardship in the 1930s. Unlike our southern neighbours, we floundered through the times completely lost in a maze of choices blinded by a fog of misapplied moral principles.

Berton paints a picture of the whole of Canada, from the Atlantic provinces, to the Pacific coast while going through Quebec. He tells heart breaking stories of a lost decade. Why did Canadians go hungry in the midst of plenty? Why weren't food and clothes distributed to the needy? Why did a little girl in Saskatchewan come to school every other day, only when it was her turn to wear the dress she had to share with her sister? Why did a father too poor to buy wood for the stove have to wake up to find his baby frozen to death? Why didn't the government do anything? It could easily have: as soon as war was declared in 1939, resources to clothe, feed, and pay hundreds of thousands of young men magically appeared.

Berton's answer is simple: Canada had no leadership. Our two prime ministers of the thirties, R. B. Bennett and William Lyon Mackenzie King, were two gentlemen stuck in classical economics mode. They saw people starving and balanced the budget. They saved the Dollar instead of saving lives. Bennett and King weren't heartless; they were just blind to what the government could do and should have done. When they did set themselves to action, it was to repress "agitators" and "revolutionaries".

Berton's narrative isn't wholly bleak. Among the tragedies shine a few bright spots: a young couple falling in love here, children playing there. We get a picture of Canada in the 1930s, and I personally learned a thing or two of "l'ancien temps" as my mom and dad have always called their childhood.
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Format: Paperback
Having collected Canadian postage stamps for more than 35 years, I am more than casually aware that the land north of the 49th parallel is not the "51st through 57th States," unlike many of my fellow United States citizens. The United States was founded to achieve "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," while Canada was founded to achieve "peace, order, and good government," which are two totally different theories.

However, both suffered from a common disaster -- the staggering impact of the 1929 Wall Street stock market crash and the Great Depression that followed, which put the world on breadlines, shattered the lives of millions, and enabled the rise of dictators across the globe, who created a second World War.

Canada's suffering echoed that of the United States, of course -- at the grand scale: industrial collapses, the Dust Bowl and agricultural famine, paranoia about left-wing coups, right-wing and left-wing panaceas, labor strife. At the bottom end were the personal horrors: starving children, families bankrupted (and in some cases annihilated by the paterfamilias), youth riding freight cars to find hope elsewhere and instead suffering violence and violation, religious and ethnic prejudice. There was some leavening -- Canadians pawed through exciting newspaper and magazine stories of adventurers, listened closely to radio serials and comedians, tut-tutted at the foibles of King Edward VIII, and turned out in thousands to welcome King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

The biggest difference was that while the United States enjoyed the charismatic, energetic, and optimistic leadership of Franklin D.
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