The author explains in his Preface that there are two major questions he wishes to investigate in this book about the Depression: what happened during the boom and panic of the '20's? what were the causes? He is frank about the impossibility of finding conclusive answers and has attempted to cover a broad range of circumstances and the reasons for them. In discussing what happened, Mr. Patterson describes the economic climate of the '20's, the big bull/bear investors, the sunshine and gloom market analysts and the general aura of optimism affecting small and heavy investors. The effects of the crash on the speculators is described in bread and butter terms; what might be minimal loss to a broker could and did mean disaster for many professional men and the individuals who were taking a flyer at making money on margin. The hysterical reaction, the morbid interest in suicide, the place of women in investing and the government investigation of practices is all a part of this very readable account. As to the reasons behind it all, the writing of contemporary commentators and those economists and historians who have since dealt with the era have been selectively excerpted. A brief book, conversational in tone, surveying damages that still draw reader interest.