A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness - and a Trove of Letters - Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression by Ted Gup, NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness - and a Trove of Letters - Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression

A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness - and a Trove of Letters - Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression

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by Ted Gup
     
 

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An inspiring account of America at its worst-and Americans at their best-woven from the stories of Depression-era families who were helped by gifts from the author's generous and secretive grandfather.

Shortly before Christmas 1933 in Depression-scarred Canton, Ohio, a small newspaper ad offered $10, no strings attached, to 75 families in distress.

Overview

An inspiring account of America at its worst-and Americans at their best-woven from the stories of Depression-era families who were helped by gifts from the author's generous and secretive grandfather.

Shortly before Christmas 1933 in Depression-scarred Canton, Ohio, a small newspaper ad offered $10, no strings attached, to 75 families in distress. Interested readers were asked to submit letters describing their hardships to a benefactor calling himself Mr. B. Virdot. The author's grandfather Sam Stone was inspired to place this ad and assist his fellow Cantonians as they prepared for the cruelest Christmas most of them would ever witness.

Moved by the tales of suffering and expressions of hope contained in the letters, which he discovered in a suitcase 75 years later, Ted Gup initially set out to unveil the lives behind them, searching for records and relatives all over the country who could help him flesh out the family sagas hinted at in those letters. From these sources, Gup has re-created the impact that Mr B. Virdot's gift had on each family. Many people yearned for bread, coal, or other necessities, but many others received money from B. Virdot for more fanciful items-a toy horse, say, or a set of encyclopedias. As Gup's investigations revealed, all these things had the power to turn people's lives around- even to save them.

But as he uncovered the suffering and triumphs of dozens of strangers, Gup also learned that Sam Stone was far more complex than the lovable- retiree persona he'd always shown his grandson. Gup unearths deeply buried details about Sam's life-from his impoverished, abusive upbringing to felonious efforts to hide his immigrant origins from U.S. officials-that help explain why he felt such a strong affinity to strangers in need. Drawing on his unique find and his award-winning reportorial gifts, Ted Gup solves a singular family mystery even while he pulls away the veil of eight decades that separate us from the hardships that united America during the Depression. In A Secret Gift, he weaves these revelations seamlessly into a tapestry of Depression-era America, which will fascinate and inspire in equal measure.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101444634
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/28/2010
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
273,590
File size:
457 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Ted Gup wrote a very skeletal version of what became the basis for A Secret Gift for the New York Times two years ago, and it was the second most emailed story for the Times that year. New research resulted in A Secret Gift: How One Man’s Kindness – and Trove of Letters – Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression.

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Secret Gift 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a collection of private personal letters written from real people who are at their wits end. You feel the despair in their written words, the lost hope of each letter writer, and the sadness during the Depression time. What makes this book exciting to read is that there is a follow-up of what happened to each family given $10. Not all have perfect endings and in some circumstances, the author, while researching for this book, brings about new revelations to the now elderly children of the parents who wrote these letters. This book gives the reader a great insight of how difficult the depression was and the challenges faced by real every day people. If you are into genealogy, like I am, you will absolutely love this book.
WordPA More than 1 year ago
Ted Gup writers an inspiring book using Sam Stone as a wonderul, caring and charamastic character. This book brought back wonderful memories of Canton, Ohio. We lived in Canton 12 years ago - what a delight to see the name of restaurants, industries and streets again. The true meaning of the holidays is portrqayed in "A Secret Gift." This is a book that can be read without the fear of finding invasive words, actions or deeds. A "family" book. A must read for everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was deeply moved by this book, especially in these times when we have had so much and now have to rethink--- when is enough, enough?----read this book and you will come away with a better understanding of why diversity and tolerance are the key to the greatness of this country!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great gift to give. Realize life was a great struggle for many people-but, you can rise above it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A touching inside look at the Great Depression. Not only do you read the heartbreaking stories firsthand but you will read the story of the author's own grandfather and how it helped to create all of the other stories.I want my kids to read this book. Lots in this for everyone.
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Leggo More than 1 year ago
Another great book about kindness coming out of the Great Depression is The Seeds We Sow. From the darkest of times comes some of the most inspirational stories of courage and kindness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did like this book, but when I was done I felt like I would have liked to have known more about Sam (the man who gave the secret gift), rather then hear another story about the people who received the gift. The book would have been no less relevant if Mr. Gup had given fewer of the stories of the recipients, rather then give too many, as I felt he did. One thing I appreciated (sadly) was how similar the issues were then and what we Americans are going through now. The difference? Today the people don't fend for others the way they did then, it seems as though today we are all on our own in our suffering.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
So well written - a great visit to a time and in human nature!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent revelations of the times and the impact a small - and secret - gift may have on gift and giver. Heartwarming. The book is easily read short excerpts at a time. So, it is great travel material. Moreover, the book reveals the very vulnerable nature of humanity to anonymous exposition.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a great easy read
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great to keep in the car, bedside table or anywhere it can be picked up and read whenever you have a spare moment. The secret is no longer secret when author Ted Gup discovers a briefcase containing letters belonging to his grandfather from the great depression. It is uplifting as well as informative. A great perspective on our current economic crisis compared with the great depression of the 1930's.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book revealing what it was like in the midwest during the depression and what it was like for immigrants coming to this country. It accentuates what one man can do to help others in the worst of times.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book brings the human side of the Depression to light, while telling the secret history of the author's family. With today's economic concerns, it's incredibly relevant.
sfsd More than 1 year ago
I found the concept of this book so interesting and it started out well. But the story of the "giver," which was not as interesting to me as the recipient stories, got repetitive as it went on and on. I got bored and stopped reading and moved on to another book. I got the feeling that someone suggested to the author that he write this book and he whipped something out just to get it done. That may not be the case, but that's how it felt to me. Others may enjoy it more than I.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Raegan Nielsen More than 1 year ago
We met this author at a library opening and were priveledged enough to hear some of these stories from him. It was an inspiring concert with the Red Rock Band putting these stories to music. I bought the book that day. I loved the stories and setting. This is a beautiful book with an inspiring message. The stories in this book are hard to read at times because of the struggles the families went through. He brings home the fact that there are amazing people doing amazing things. This book book rings true of the true meaning of christmas!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book immensely!! It offered wonderful personal insight into the lives of families living through this terrible time. The author did a great thing by following up with these families and showing the readers how the effects of The Depression made lasting impressions on these families for generations to come. The authors personal family story is just as fascinating and perfectly intertwined with the stories from the letters. This was one of those books I did not want to end!
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