NOTHING TO FEAR by Adam Cohen
Kirkus Star

NOTHING TO FEAR

FDR’S Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America

KIRKUS REVIEW

Journalist Cohen (The Perfect Store: Inside eBay, 2002, etc.) delves into the New Deal archives to fashion an elucidating, pertinent and timely work on the makings of government.

The slew of progressive legislation passed during Franklin Roosevelt’s first 100 days in office in 1933 broke with the old order of laissez faire economics and redefined the nature of government’s responsibilities vis-à-vis its citizens. These policies had critics, to be sure, but they worked, Cohen notes, alleviating people’s misery during the Great Depression by offering relief, jobs and, most important, hope. While FDR largely garnered the credit for the country’s recovery—and aroused alarm with his autocratic proclamations and tactics—his handpicked minions worked tirelessly behind the scenes to forge the New Deal’s landmark programs, often by trial and error. Cohen closely examines the five members of Roosevelt’s inner circle who left the most lasting mark on the legislation forged during those 100 days, looking in turn at where they came from, how they gained the president’s trust and how they used their experience to make history. Since the banking crisis was FDR’s first concern, he chose trusted aide and speechwriter Raymond Moley to work alongside the Treasury Department on the Emergency Banking Act, which tackled the essential tension between spending more to fight the Depression and spending less to balance the budget. Budget Director Lewis Douglas, a conservative, pushed through Congress the Economy Act, a major budget-reduction measure, but he resigned in 1934 when Roosevelt took the country off the gold standard. Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace saved the farm belt with the Agricultural Adjustment Act; Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, the first female Cabinet member, persuaded FDR to support her ambitious progressive agenda, including workers’ rights protections; Harry Hopkins became the leading public-works administrator.

Ambitious yet well focused—a marvelously readable study of an epic moment in American history.

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59420-196-7
Page count: 356pp
Publisher: Penguin Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2008




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