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THE COMING OF THE NEW DEAL by Arthur M. Schlesinger Kirkus Star


Vol. II - The Age of Roosevelt

by Arthur M. Schlesinger

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 1958
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

The Crisis of the Old Order, (1957) which launched this monumental assessment of a relatively contemporary era in American social, political and economic life, was an epitaph to a period which ran its opulent but progressively more ruinous course from 1919-1933. Upon that sustained and anguished epitaph — though independent of it- Schlesinger, probably the one historian who most fully realizes the structural and organic values of 20th century American history, recounts the tumultuous years of Roosevelt's first term. He analyzes the solid facts of Rooseveltian legislation, the cabinet personalities, and the kinds of administrative youngbloods surging upon Washington, the methods and tasks of economic recovery, the social the massive reorganization of labor, agriculture and Wall Street. But if Schlesinger details abundantly the circumstances, individuals, policies which signalized the early New Deal, he expresses, above all, the inspiring and inspiriting sense of rededication which came over the United States, the moral torments and gronings toward a new social conscience, the yielding of regionalism and the regional mind to the interests of the country as a whole, within a widening circle of the world community. Conservatives may feel that as a historian, Schlesinger's weakness is a tendency towards clutter, a lack of sensitivity in an indulgence toward trivial information which has comparatively little earnest relevance. They may even feel he is neither tidy nor consistent. But his great gift is in not letting the meaning and the magnificence of events be carried away by their own rushing and violent, tide. Schlesinger seizes and epitomizes, as perhaps no other American historian, the wonder and the consequence of his subject. The evolution of a president, the complexity of a man, come through with extraordinary perception. The Coming of the New Deal is impelling, an achievement as much in its sensitivity as in its scholarship. The selection as January Book of the Month (and for this reason postponed from its original December publication date) will give it the impetus it deserves. But on its own merits it is essential reading for this and any period and season.