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Nothing to Fear: FDR's Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 8, 2009
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Roosevelt himself seems to take a back seat in the narrative, and to a large extent, this works well, because it helps to explain why the legislation that emerged out of the One Hundred Days seemed so contradictory. The Economic Act, backed by fierce fiscal conservative budget director Lewis Douglas, slashed spending, eliminated thousands of federal workers, and cut off thousands of injured veterans from their disability payments. Yet the National Industrial Recovery Act contained the most massive public works program in US history -- no doubt because those provisions were the brainchild of Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, who had little use for the Hooverism of Douglas.
Nothing to Fear is particuarly useful because it organizes for the reader what was in fact an unorganized storm of legislation. And it does this also by looking through the prism of Roosevelt's advisors. Thus, we can see some of the main outlines by following these personnel: 1) the Banking Act (Raymond Moley); 2) the Economy Act (Douglas); 3) the Agricultural Adjustment Act (Agriculture Secretary Henry A. Wallace); 4) the public works provisions in the National Industrial Recovery Act and the Civilian Conservation Corps (Perkins); and 5) the Federal Emergency Relief Act (Harry Hopkins, who did not show up until the 73rd day). And Cohen's narrative talents are deft enough also to seamlessly weave in other major pieces of legislation such as the Securities Act of 1933 and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
So if you are looking for a riveting narrative of the period, then Nothing To Fear is your book.Read more ›
The reader should be struck by the similarities between the current economic crisis and the much more dire situation that faced Roosevelt upon taking office in March 1933. Although not novel, Cohen makes it clear that FDR had few fixed ideas about what to do about the Depression and was willing to try a variety of things to see what would work. Unlike Hoover, however, Roosevelt was not willing to simply let nature takes its course. Many of his initial programs, such as the Agricultural Adjustment Act and the National Recovery Act were aimed at ending the Depression by restricting competition.
FDR knew little about economics, had many conservative instincts and his administration included several very conservative personalities in it, most notably Lewis Douglas (also an anti-Semite), the budget director. As Cohen tells the story, there was a battle for FDR's soul won by the liberal or progressive members of the administration, notably Agriculture Secretary Henry Wallace, Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, advisors Rexford Tugwell and Harry Hopkins. Cohen includes mini biographies of many of these figures, as well as one of Raymond Moley, FDR's principal advisor, who fell out with him in the mid-1930s.Read more ›
What makes this book great is its focus on the characters that really deserve the credit (or blame, in the eyes of conservatives). He brings about the fascinating stories of Francis Perkins, Henry A Wallace, Harry Hopkins, and the lone conservative, Lewis Douglas. Cohen especially focuses on Perkins' role, as the woman whose policies and goals were also seen through during the New Deal. These people were the ones devising policy, as Roosevelt himself was against massive public works projects originally.
A great read, and a clear outline of the New Deal. It also makes the argument that although shifting away from Douglas/Hoover conservatism, it was not the socialism it could have been.
This book is a thoughtful examination of President Franklin Roosevelt's first 100 days in office. The author views this tumultuous period from the perspective of five key Roosevelt associates: Robert Moley presidential aid and his most intimate advisor; Lewis Douglas, director of the budget, and another member of the "beside Cabinet", who along with Moley, met with Roosevelt each morning; Frances Perkins, secretary of labor, champion of an ambitious progressive agenda; Henry Wallace, secretary of agriculture, determined to rescue farmers from financial ruin and Harry Hopkins another Roosevelt intimate who became the leading public works administrator for the New Deal.
One of the many charms of this engaging book is the authors' ability to weave several related themes into his text. We are first presented with an informative biographical sketch of each individual spotlighting how their upbringing, education and life experiences prepared them for the Roosevelt vision of a New Deal.
The author then fills in the historical context of the challenges these individuals faces - massive unemployment, deep distrust of the banking system, and disintegration of the family farm. Finally tying it all together we learn how each principle interacted with Roosevelt and achieved there mutually agreed upon goals.
At the end of the book the author provides a capsule biography of Roosevelt's advisors. In one of the ironies of history it turned out that Robert Morley drifted from the progressive Democratic vision of the New Deal and eventually became a strong support of Republican conservative Barry Goldwater in 1964. The other four individuals kept the faith.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting and insightful read. The book provides a depth of understanding of the character of each player as well as their inter-relationships and connected-ness.Published 10 months ago by Heavy G
ONE OUR NATION'S GREAT PRESIDENTS WHO TOOK THE REINS OF POWER TO TRANSFORM A NATION TORN AND TATTERED FROM ONE OF IT'S GREATEST PERIODS OF ECONOMIC TRAUMA AND DEGRADATION SINCE THE... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Larry Derain Hicks
It is a very interesting book, maybe because I did not know the facts about the FDR 100 days and the presidency, just having heard general references to the time. Read morePublished on March 28, 2014 by Par Kettis
Nothing to Fear is a clearly written and well researched overview of the first hundred days and the key FDR advisors involved.Published on March 12, 2014 by Myles H. Whitney
The first 20 pages of the book were missing. I expected better quality, now I have to find the first 20 somewhere else so I can read this book for my HIS 104 class.Published on January 21, 2014 by Grecia Gastelum