The New Deal: A Modern History

The New Deal: A Modern History

4.0 7
by Michael Hiltzik

ISBN-10: 1439154481

ISBN-13: 9781439154489

Pub. Date: 09/13/2011

Publisher: Free Press

Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal began as a program of short-term emergency relief measures and evolved into a truly transformative concept of the federal government’s role in Americans’ lives. More than an economic recovery plan, it was a reordering of the political system that continues to define America to this day.

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Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal began as a program of short-term emergency relief measures and evolved into a truly transformative concept of the federal government’s role in Americans’ lives. More than an economic recovery plan, it was a reordering of the political system that continues to define America to this day.

With The New Deal: A Modern History, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Michael Hiltzik offers fresh insights into this inflection point in the American experience. Here is an intimate look at the alchemy that allowed FDR to mold his multifaceted and contentious inner circle into a formidable political team. The New Deal: A Modern History shows how Roosevelt, through the force of his personality, commanded the loyalty of the rock-ribbed fiscal conservative Lewis Douglas and the radical agrarian Rexford Tugwell alike; of Harold Ickes and Harry Hopkins, one a curmudgeonly miser, the other a spendthrift idealist; of Henry Morgenthau, gentleman farmer of upstate New York; and of Frances Perkins, a prim social activist with her roots in Brahmin New England. Yet the same character traits that made him so supple and self-confident a leader would sow the seeds of the New Deal’s end, with a shocking surge of Rooseveltian misjudgments.

Understanding the New Deal may be more important today than at any time in the last eight decades. Conceived in response to a devastating financial crisis very similar to America’s most recent downturn—born of excessive speculation, indifferent regulation of banks and investment houses, and disproportionate corporate influence over the White House and Congress—the New Deal remade the country’s economic and political environment in six years of intensive experimentation. FDR had no effective model for fighting the worst economic downturn in his generation’s experience; but the New Deal has provided a model for subsequent presidents who faced challenging economic conditions, right up to the present. Hiltzik tells the story of how the New Deal was made, demonstrating that its precepts did not spring fully conceived from the mind of FDR—before or after he took office. From first to last the New Deal was a work in progress, a patchwork of often contradictory ideas. Far from reflecting solely progressive principles, the New Deal also accommodated such conservative goals as a balanced budget and the suspension of antitrust enforcement. Some programs that became part of the New Deal were borrowed from the Republican administration of Herbert Hoover; indeed, some of its most successful elements were enacted over FDR’s opposition.

In this bold reevaluation of a decisive moment in American history, Michael Hiltzik dispels decades of accumulated myths and misconceptions about the New Deal to capture with clarity and immediacy its origins, its legacy, and its genius.

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Product Details

Free Press
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Product dimensions:
6.58(w) x 9.54(h) x 1.44(d)

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Long Winter 1

Part 1 The Hundred Days

1 "Action Now" 25

2 A Good Crisis 38

3 A River Out of Eden 55

4 Wall Street in the Dock 79

5 Agony on the Land 95

Part 2 The New Deal Rising

6 The General 115

7 The Gold Standard on the Booze 134

8 Harry and Harold 155

9 So Many Sinners 173

10 The Little Red House 192

11 Pied Pipers 213

12 The Cornerstone 237

13 Black Monday 261

14 Federal One 285

15 The Most Forgotten Man 308

Part 3 Return to Earth

16 Backlash 329

17 Nine Old Men 348

18 Roosevelt's Recession 376

19 Purgatory 393

Epilogue: Defining the New Deal 421

Notes 433

Bibliography 465

Acknowledgments 473

Index 475

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The New Deal: A Modern History 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a good read -- very informative and enjoyable. I thought the author was very fair and balanced, thoroughy researched the material, and was a great storyteller. The book centers on the Great Depression and the leaders in FDR's administration and throughout the nation to deal with trauma of the New Deal. They enacted reforms for long-term financial stability and an economic safety net. The book details the successes and failures. The author is a Pulitzer Prize-winning business writer, and the book seems slightly negative at times but is overall very balanced. Social Security is the most famous New Deal safety net program, and the SEC is the most famous New Deal regulatory agency. The Fair Labor Standards Act is another New Deal reform that still affects all of us. The book mentions the thousands of New Deal infratructure projects (dams, airports, schools, roads, tunnels, aqueducts, canals, parks, etc) the New Deal built to build the economy, thousands of which are still with us today. I learned much about how the New Deal came about, the various programs, the successes, the failures, and America during the Great Depression. The book seems very scholarly and yet was easy to read. The New Deal reforms seemed to keep the economy stable and prosperous for many decades until some of the New Deal regulations were repealed in the decade before the economic collapse of 2007-2008. Also read the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War" by David Kennedy, "Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal" by William Leuchtenburg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Lords of Finance" by Liaquat Ahamed, and "Anxious Decades: America in Prosperity and Depression, 1920-1941" by Michael Parish.
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
You may think of Franklin Roosevelt as a sepia-toned hero who smoothly guided the United States out of the Depression. As this captivating history makes clear, that is partly true – but not entirely. Roosevelt was a hero in some ways, but his path was decidedly messy. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Hiltzik guides readers through the fits and starts of “New Deal” policies. It turns out that New Deal program ideas could spring from anywhere, whether Roosevelt’s avid imagination or the writings of an obscure economist. A few New Deal programs were miserable failures. And while FDR’s landslide victories paint a distant, historic picture of an overwhelmingly popular president, Hiltzik points out that Roosevelt had to overcome plenty of opposition to enact his policies. getAbstract recommends this revealing history to readers seeking a fresh look at a seminal chapter – and a seminal man – in American politics and economics.