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SIX DAYS IN OCTOBER by Karen Blumenthal


The Stock Market Crash of 1929

by Karen Blumenthal

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-689-84276-7
Publisher: Atheneum

A cogent account of the Stock Market Crash that occurred between October 24 and October 29, 1929, and ushered in the Great Depression. Blumenthal, the Dallas bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, carefully describes the many players, including Mike Meehan, the stockbroker who almost single-handedly made Radio Corporation of America the hottest property on the New York Stock Exchange; Richard Whitney, the vice-president of the Exchange, whose bold purchase of US Steel at $205 on Thursday failed to prevent the ultimate crash on Tuesday; and Albert Wiggin, the chairman of Chase National Bank, who, even as he attempted to rally the public’s confidence in the market, secretly sold shares in Chase short in the expectation of a decline and reaped a profit of $4 million. Sidebars explain such concepts as buying on margin, pools, and insider trading. Liberal quotation from contemporary sources such as newspapers and from memoirs of players both big and small contextualize the events and put a human face on the enormous complexity of the Crash. The overall look of the volume is striking: well-captioned archival photographs and other material appear on nearly every spread, and a ticker tape running across the bottom of the pages charts the market’s ups and downs from chapter to chapter. One major design flaw is the tendency of sidebars to interrupt the flow of the text, cutting in the middle of sentences at the page turns. The final product would also have been improved by the extension of the discussion into present-day market conditions as well as the inclusion of additional reading sources specifically for young people—the bibliography and notes consist of contemporary and adult materials. These quibbles aside, this offering is a solid exploration of an event whose importance is undisputed but which is rarely so lucidly explained for anyone, let alone young readers. (Nonfiction. 12+)