The New Deal shaped our nation's politics for decades, and was seen by many as tantamount to the "American Way" itself. Now, in this superb compact history, Eric Rauchway offers an informed account of the New Deal and the Great Depression, illuminating its successes and failures.
Rauchway first describes how the roots of the Great Depression lay in America's post-war economic policies--described as "laissez-faire with a vengeance"--which in effect isolated our nation from the world economy just when the world needed the United States most. He shows how the magnitude of the resulting economic upheaval, and the ineffectiveness of the old ways of dealing with financial hardships, set the stage for Roosevelt's vigorous (and sometimes unconstitutional) Depression-fighting policies. Indeed, Rauchway stresses that the New Deal only makes sense as a response to this global economic disaster. The book examines a key sampling of New Deal programs, ranging from the National Recovery Agency and the Securities and Exchange Commission, to the Public Works Administration and Social Security, revealing why some worked and others did not. In the end, Rauchway concludes, it was the coming of World War II that finally generated the political will to spend the massive amounts of public money needed to put Americans back to work. And only the Cold War saw the full implementation of New Deal policies abroad--including the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.
Today we can look back at the New Deal and, for the first time, see its full complexity. Rauchway captures this complexity in a remarkably short space, making this book an ideal introduction to one of the great policy revolutions in history.
"Rauchway boils it down to 150 pages. He calls it: The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction. I call it required reading."--Laura Conaway, NPR's Planet Money
"Everybody's talking new New Deal these days... Eric Rauchway is all over this."-Paul Krugman, The New York Times
"This well written, informative and illustrated book sets the scene, introduces the analysis and paves the way for an informed debate from which we can--and should--learn much."--Andrew Dodgshon, Tribune (UK)
2: The World Crisis
3: Before the New Deal
4: How did we get caught?"
5: The New Deal vs. the Constitution
6: FDR, His Friends, and His Enemies
7: The New Deal that Lasted
8: Working for the United States of America
9: The New Deal in War and Peace
10: The New Deal Legacy