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nkunka

Booklog

I like big books.

The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression

The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression - Amity Shlaes Meh. I think this was probably one of the better written histories of the Depression that I've read, but it reeks of Conservative Tea Party drivel. I wonder if I'd read this before the financial crisis and the subsequent political baloney flying back and forth from both sides if I would have received it differently. Most likely I would.

The one positive I will take from this book is a more rounded view of Hoover. A man whom all I knew about was that he was a fantastic organizer from his experiences with supply-running during WWI and that he basically sat on his thumb while the economy turned to crap all around him. Technically speaking, as Shlaes pointed out, that not strictly true.

However there is an awful lot that I find ridiculous, not least of which is an entire chapter about a trip to Soviet Russia taken by a group of individuals who would later be in FDR's circle. I could hear the communist by association implications right beneath the surface and find them all too similar to the charges leveled at any president with an activist approach to dealing with downturns in the business cycle that isn't a Republican. The running criticism of FDR in general seems to be in this book that the New Deal did nothing but make things worse and extend the Depressions effects over a decade by scaring off investors who were afraid to hire among all the new regulations and the changing business climate. Again, you hear the same thing about President Obama today.

It seems that many conservatives need a lesson in history, for their reach is a little short-sighted. Perhaps they should pick up a book about the good old 19th century and the heyday of the robber barons who made absolutely ridiculous amounts of money at the expense of their workers who had no unemployment insurance, social security benefits or even enough in most cases to allow their children the luxury of going to school instead of working to feed themselves and support their families, to say absolutely nothing about becoming middle class. That's what a deregulated America looks like. That's what a 7% tax rate looks like. You get NOTHING and you are completely at the mercy of whatever business entity is at the top of the totem poll. Not to say I think all corporations are evil or that we should punish our most innovative with excessive taxation, but I think the road to deregulation is incredibly naive and has only reared its ugly head again because people have forgotten their history.