A highly readable, illuminating look at the many ramifications of feeding the hungry in hard times.



A history of the struggle to put food on American tables during the Great Depression.

“Food, like language, is always in motion, propelled by the same events that fill our history books,” write culinary experts Coe (Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States, 2009) and Ziegelman (97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, 2010). By using food as a unifying theme, the authors give a fresh slant to the familiar but complicated history of one of America’s most difficult eras. They deftly connect food to science, technology, and commerce as well as political, cultural, and social movements, assembling a thought-provoking mix of personal stories, statistics, and historical events. After the 1929 crash, President Herbert Hoover claimed “business was on sound footing” while New York City breadlines served 85,000 meals per day to the destitute from all levels of society. A domino effect of unemployment and hunger spread across the nation, exacerbated by droughts and floods. “The poor and how they should be treated,” and who is “deserving” and “undeserving” in the hierarchy of food distribution were questions that were part of a national conversation that resonates today. The fear that providing food for the hungry would destroy any incentive to work hindered relief efforts as presidents Hoover and Roosevelt approached the juggernaut of feeding a nation from opposite ends of the political spectrum. As jobs and farms dried up, people were on the move looking for work and sustenance. Menus, recipes, and first-person accounts of folks struggling to get a meal put readers at the heart of the crisis. Among the heroes was an army of professional women from the Bureau of Home Economics who sallied forth armed with budgetary and nutritional advice, determined to educate masses of women on cooking methods, low-cost balanced diets, gardening, and new kitchen technology. Their efforts influenced the culinary arts for decades to come.

A highly readable, illuminating look at the many ramifications of feeding the hungry in hard times.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-221641-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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