Down and Out in the Great Depression: Letters from the Forgotten Man

Down and Out in the Great Depression: Letters from the Forgotten Man

by Robert S. McElvaine
     
 
Down and Out in the Great Depression is a moving, revealing collection of letters by the forgotten men, women, and children who suffered through one of the greatest periods of hardship in American history. Mainly because of his radio talks, thousands felt they knew President Franklin Roosevelt personally and could confide in him about their troubles. Sifting through

Overview

Down and Out in the Great Depression is a moving, revealing collection of letters by the forgotten men, women, and children who suffered through one of the greatest periods of hardship in American history. Mainly because of his radio talks, thousands felt they knew President Franklin Roosevelt personally and could confide in him about their troubles. Sifting through some 15,000 letters from government and private sources, Robert McElvaine has culled nearly 200 examples that best show the problems, thoughts, and emotions of ordinary people during this time. For this twenty-fifth anniversary edition, McElvaine provides a new foreword recounting the history of the book, its impact on the historiography of the Depression, and its continued importance today.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A New York Times Book Review Books for Vacation Reading & Notable Book of the Year

There's nothing more deeply moving than reading the words and thus hearing the voices of the actual survivors of hard times. McElvaine has captured these voices as no one else ever has.
—Studs Terkel

The book is unique. Nowhere else can we read of despair as recorded by those who were feeling it hardest, unfiltered by memory.
Southern Living

First-rate explanatory essays by the editor.
The New Yorker

[This] book is easily the best thing of its sort ever done.
—David Shannon, Commonwealth Professor of History, University of Virginia

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807815342
Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press, The
Publication date:
03/28/1983
Pages:
251
Lexile:
1420L (what's this?)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
The book is unique. Nowhere else can we read of despair as recorded by those who were feeling it hardest, unfiltered by memory.—Southern Living

This is a good book . . . capturing people's moods well." —Library Journal

An illuminating contribution to the history of a bad time half a century ago.—Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., New York Times Book Review

An enormously valuable and revealing document. . . . An experience that pays rich if painful rewards. The most obvious of these is that Down and Out in the Great Depression adds an important new dimension to our knowledge of a vastly important period in American history.—Washington Post Book Review

A collection of unforgettable vignettes that offer vivid testimony to the hardships the 'forgotten' men and women endured in the 1930s.—William E. Leuchtenburg, University of North Carolina

These are voices that need to be heard.—Journal of the Illinois Historical Society

The editor provides solid background.—Publishers Weekly

McElvaine's . . . contribution [is] significant and his conclusions . . . [are] more convincing than those of other scholars who have also tried to recount the Depression 'from the ground up.' . . . There is a poignancy which occasionally pushes past the confines of history and turns into street poetry, art, delirium.—Los Angeles Herald Examiner

Soundly conceived and imaginatively edited, Down and Out in the Great Depression shows how Americans responded to economic collapse, not in memory, but in their own words at the time-a compelling contribution to our history.—Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

McElvaine . . . has found and filled a gap. . . . [He] has brought the feelings of these invisible people to life.—St. Petersburg Times

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Meet the Author

Robert S. McElvaine is Elizabeth Chisholm Professor of Arts and Letters and professor of history at Millsaps College.

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