This book provides much to study and reread. Though mostly well-written, the narrative is factually dense, intense, and...

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THE NEW DEAL

A GLOBAL HISTORY

A deep, scholarly dive into the New Deal and how it relates to the world’s attempts to deal with what he calls the “Great Slump.”

The Depression was not entirely caused by the stock market crash. In great, sometimes overwhelming detail, Patel (European and Global History/Maastricht Univ.; Soldiers of Labor: Labor Service in Nazi Germany and New Deal America, 1933 to 1945, 2005, etc.) shows how the destabilizing effects of World War I caused the collapse of states and empires and how the reparations required by the Treaty of Versailles left an insurmountable burden on Germany. Franklin Roosevelt proposed an easing of those payments to European countries but did not offer to ease the debt they owed to the United States, which they couldn’t pay without the reparations. As such, nearly everyone defaulted. Europe and the world were slipping, economic chaos spurred coups, and dictatorships were replacing democracies. The author notes that democracy was considered boring, while fascism and communism were considered more innovative. It was time for the U.S. to take the global economic and political lead, but the nation wasn’t yet ready. Instead, it turned inward, cut lending, raised tariffs, and fixed prices. The New Deal was not only an alphabet soup of institutions, it was an amalgam of ideas culled from all over the world, in places where pensions and unemployment insurance were already established. At the time, Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini were admired for their successes in creating labor services, education, and housing. Many New Deal plans had distinct similarities to their programs, which unfortunately included racism, expansionism, and control of their inhabitants. The author shows how all nations turned to nationalism, social engineering of planned communities, intervention, and insulation to seek security and recovery.

This book provides much to study and reread. Though mostly well-written, the narrative is factually dense, intense, and often verbose. It should be useful to economists, researchers, and specialists in the Depression and its aftermath.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-691-14912-7

Page Count: 424

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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