The Forgotten Man Book Analysis

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Amity Shlaes, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. x + 464 pp. $27 (cloth), ISBN: 978-0-06-621170-1. Reviewed for EH.NET by Michael V. Namorato, Department of History, University of Mississippi. Amity Shlaes? The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression is, in many respects, a unique book. The author has written a rather lengthy account of what she believes the Great Depression was all about. She offers her own views on what caused this economic crisis, how badly it was handled by those in government, and why the economic downturn lasted so long. And, she does this by her so-called approach of looking at ?the forgotten man.? Who was this forgotten man? He or she is the one who…show more content…
There is no doubt that the author is anti-Roosevelt and anti-New Deal. At first, the fact is subtle, but, as the book progresses, it becomes clearer that she dislikes FDR and what he did. Once the reader understands this, everything falls into place. Just as important are some specific weaknesses in the book itself. The author gets lost in ?details,? especially with the individuals that she is supposedly examining. A good case in point is Father Divine. While he is mentioned in the book from the beginning, it is not until almost the end of the study that the author even talks about him and then it is in terms of his purchasing property near the Roosevelt estate in Hyde Park. Another problem is the author?s insistence on identifying the motivation of people. Offering little or no evidence, she consistently tells the reader what and why something was being done by a particular person. Her discussion of Mellon makes one wonder whether he is a saint or a devil in disguise. Shlaes has a tendency to pick out what she wants from the evidence she has examined. This is true in the case of Tugwell. Whenever she quotes or discusses him, it is always in the context of Tugwell the radical reformer. The truth of the matter is that Tugwell can only be understood in terms of his ever-evolving and developing economic philosophy. Tugwell often ?thought out loud.? You simply cannot take what he said in 1934 and argue that this was his thinking all along. Finally, the author seems to have her own definition of what is liberal in the twentieth century. It would have helped immeasurably if she had shared her thinking with the reader from the very

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