Book Review: The Forgotten Man

The Great Depression is something that has always been taught in history classes as the time Capitalism failed us and President Roosevelt’s New Deal saved us. This book “The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression” by Amity Shales tries to combat this.

This book doesn’t try to tell you that a certain economic explanation of why the 1929 crash happened when it did. It instead let’s history tell the tale. It doesn’t take long before you realize that the author has done great extensive research. One thing that is amazing about this book is that it doesn’t take a macro approach to telling the story. Instead this book takes a look at a few individuals while hinting and reminding you of the macro points. Each chapter is outlined with the average Dow Jones and the unemployment rate.

The only drawback to this book is that it is subtle and doesn’t quite fill that much emotion in me until the later part of the book. I would like to read it again because I feel like I did not pay enough attention to the detail. I think partly this has to do with the fact that the people you are dealing with are not people you ever hear about in your history classes. I found myself in deep thought about the Hoover and FDR details of the book when in fact at the beginning it hardly focuses on them. As expected Hoover fades fast and FDR become more strong.

The part of the book I most thoroughly enjoyed was the end with the Presidential campaign Wilkie vs. FDR. This stirred emotions of a grassroots organization that got someone elected to a party’s nomination. This somewhat reminds me of the Ron Paul Revolution and the founding fathers because in fact at first Wilkie did not want to be nominated.

I would highly recommend this book to most people. I feel as if many people would not find it interesting enough because it does a good job of being subtle. This is a must read for any history or economics buff for sure. Even though I admit that someone unlike me who knows nothing of the horrors of FDR might have a life altering moment reading this book.




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  1. I concur with your review of Amity Shales’ great book. I found it very educational, although too subtle. It was difficult to remain interested in the individuals followed as they and their actions were less than heroic. I’ll have to say all in all a great book, especially for those who believe FDR got us out of the “great depression” instead of acknowledging that Hoover led us into a recession and FDR turned it into a full on destruction of wealth.

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