- Series: Pivotal Moments in American History
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (October 25, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195135164
- ISBN-13: 978-0195135169
- Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 1.4 x 6.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Rainbow's End: The Crash of 1929 (Pivotal Moments in American History) 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
The first serious account of the Crash of 1929 was Only Yesterday, by Frederick Lewis Allen, published less than two years after the event and still in print. Disappointingly, Klein's effort is almost a chapter-by-chapter retelling of Only Yesterday, adding some research from the last 70 years but lacking Allen's firsthand knowledge and writing skill. Klein (The Life and Legend of Stephen Jay Gould) is an academic historian. His prose is pleasant enough, but he dashes hope of depth or rigor with the claim that the Crash cannot be explained by economics, or indeed by any observable historical forces, but by a change in national mood. This assumption permits him to focus on such topics as baseball batting averages, flagpole sitting and hemlines between 1900 and 1928. He also explores the "irrational exuberance" fostered by the period's colorful Wall Street personalities, men like Sunshine Charley Mitchell, the great, attention-seeking bond trader who headed National City Bank. Provocatively, he also observes the period's preoccupation with escape newly available through the automobile, the motion picture, sports and television and its economic impact.Yet Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts analyzed the culture of the period more effectively in The Day the Bubble Burst. (Oct. 29)Forecast: There are many books on the 1929 market crash, but John Kenneth Galbraith's innovative and engaging The Great Crash of 1929 easily remains the best account for the general reader; those already knowledgeable about the Crash will find this account wanting. Klein is a prominent business historian, however, and the topic should garner some review coverage and sales.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Klein (history, Univ. of Rhode Island), a Pulitzer Prize finalist who specializes in American business history, observes that "scholars have yet to determine what actually caused the [1929 stock market] crash and the role, if any, it played in bringing on the depression that followed." Nevertheless, in this well-written, well-documented, and fast-paced narrative, he explores the myriad social, political, cultural, and economic events that led to the crash and its immediate aftermath. With his scene-setting discussions of the prosperous 1920s, the era's various enterprises and their leaders (e.g., Henry Ford and Sunshine Charley Mitchell, head of the National City Bank), the speculators drawn into the game, and the political atmosphere of the Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover years, Klein helps readers better understand the reaction of millions to an event that shook the world. Parallels to the recent business climate make this a timely publication that should be considered by academic and public libraries. Steven J. Mayover, Philadelphia
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
The writing style is a strong narrative with various good characters and events, and is written to show the points of views of many people (from various walks of life) who participated in, and were affected by, the big crash. To me, it was a fun and engaging read, not at all tedious like so many financial and/or history books.
The content of the book was 3/4 on the main story, and about 1/4 on the reference list, so the book content is definitely rooted in the reality and newpapers and sources of the time. I liked how the author did such a good job of weaving quotes from the historical record into the narrative -- it usually felt that I was right there, listening to a reporter or someone who was relating yesterday's news (hot off the press) and providing insightful analysis.
I see that other reviewers do not favour this book as much as Galbraiths book (or others), mostly it seems because this book does not contain the super-detail or academic analysis that the other books do. From my point of view, the "lack" of endless analytical detail is a good thing, not a bad thing.
This book was intended to be a story from the people's point of view, with many quotes from the newspapers and people of the time, very readable and accessible to anyone who wanted a story about the 1920s, the moods and trends of the time, and about the crash event itself. And I think the book does an excellent job of achieving its goal.
I would definitely recommend this book to my friends, or anyone who is interested in the people and moods of the 1920s and the crash. I really enjoyed it.
The book's prologue "The Summer of Fun, 1929" is clearly its highlight, certainly a dubious distinction. "In the summer of 1929 much of America was on an artificial high. It was a high born not of drugs but of an illusion that the prosperity and the good times then being enjoyed were made of new miracle ingredients that would last forever." Klein paints a vivid portrait of life in America in his early pages but sadly does not follow along in that form.
Throughout the book the reader cannot help but think that this is more of a reporter giving much more detail than needed, literally day by day of the Dow and the New York Times Index, often in the absolute and without percentages so one gets a relative idea of what was going on. Additionally, and quite strangely, Klein doesn't weave into his writing the many causes of the Crash and also poorly differentiates between the Crash and the Depression. One gets the idea that if he were to take out long and seemingly unrelated passages such as one on Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson and much of the above mentioned ticker tape readings he would have had ample room to discuss not only the causes and effects of the Crash but also would have been able to maintain the narrative style in the beginning of Rainbow's End.
To Klein's credit he does a very good job with the Coolidge and Hoover administrations and in his discussions on the nascent stages of the Federal Reserve. He also drives home the point of a much smaller federal government role in the years prior to FDR and its lack of ability to "rescue" a calamitous market and the resultant depressed economy, "Federal purchase of goods and services totaled about 1.3 percent of GNP and federal construction a tiny 2 percent, hardly enough to serve as a prime stimulant".
Perhaps the saddest part of this writing is that, in its current form, much could be done to improve it. Little to no additional research is needed. Just a rewrite and more color and less droning on and on about redundant economic and market statistics. This book, in its research and obvious talents of its author, fails to make an interesting topic captivating to the reader. Clearly a laggard in this fabulous series.