Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945

Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945Between And , Two Great Travails Were Visited Upon The American People The Great Depression And World War II This Book Tells The Story Of How Americans Endured, And Eventually Prevailed, In The Face Of Those Unprecedented CalamitiesThe Depression Was Both A Disaster And An Opportunity As David Kennedy Vividly Demonstrates, The Economic Crisis Of The S Was Far Than A Simple Reaction To The Alleged Excesses Of The S For Than A Century Before , America S Unbridled Industrial Revolution Had Gyrated Through Repeated Boom And Bust Cycles, Wastefully Consuming Capital And Inflicting Untold Misery On City And Countryside AlikeFreedom From Fear Explores How The Nation Agonized Over Its Role In World War II, How It Fought The War, Why The United States Won, And Why The Consequences Of Victory Were Sometimes Sweet, Sometimes Ironic In A Compelling Narrative, Kennedy Analyzes The Determinants Of American Strategy, The Painful Choices Faced By Commanders And Statesmen, And The Agonies Inflicted On The Millions Of Ordinary Americans Who Were Compelled To Swallow Their Fears And Face Battle As Best They CouldBoth Comprehensive And Colorful, This Account Of The Most Convulsive Period In American History, Excepting Only The Civil War, Reveals A Period That Formed The Crucible In Which Modern America Was Formed

David Michael Kennedy is an American Pulitzer Prize winning historian specializing in American history He is the Donald J McLachlan Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford University 1 and the Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West Professor Kennedy s scholarship is notable for its integration of economic analysis and cultural analysis with social history and political histor

✼ Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 Epub ✿ Author David M. Kennedy –
  • Paperback
  • 936 pages
  • Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945
  • David M. Kennedy
  • English
  • 26 April 2019
  • 9780195144031

10 thoughts on “Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945

  1. says:

    NotesThis is a survey text which is not to say it can t deal with familiar material in a fresh and innovative way It s extremely well done I learned some new things and had my knowledge enhanced in other areas 1 The government Hoover presided over represented 3% of the GDP According to Kennedy, it was largely the puny size of the federal government that limited Hoover s attempts to effect change That and the fact that he was too wedded to the gold standard, which FDR abandoned, and he saw recovery largely as a function of balance of payments, i.e international diplomacy 2 Hoover s tiny government didn t have much statistical information about itself Housing starts, business inventories, retail sales, CPI, etc most of these were a result of the New Deal.3 In the 1930s, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party both had members with political positions ranging from liberal to conservative This I find mind boggling 4 In the late 1930s some 80% of the federal judiciary, and seven of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices, had been appointed by Republican presidents This highly activist judiciary frustrated Roosevelt and overturned much of his legislation A New Yorker writer, remarking in 1936 on the Supreme Court s new classical revival temple on Capitol Hill, said it is a magnificent structure with fine big windows to throw the New Deal out of 5 The New Deal did not create economic recovery in the short term But the regulatory agencies it put in place SEC, FDIC, FHA, NLRB, etc and the new forms of financial disclosure these institutions required from businesses, served to create greater transparency and thus for a while a lower risk form of American capitalism NOTE It was the Clinton Administration s invalidation of the Glass Steagall Act, a piece of New Deal legislation which separated investment banks from commercial banks, that led directly to the 2008 global financial crash 6 There s excellent coverage here of the isolationism America indulged in during the Nazi agressions and Spanish Civil War This has always been only briefly glossed over in accounts by European writers Winston Churchill s foreboding memos to Roosevelt during the time that FDR was trying to extricate the U.S from statutory neutrality chill the bones If Britain were defeated, Churchhill ominously intoned, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we ve known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age For see his 6 volume The Second World War.7 The complexities and backstory of the Lend Lease Program are nicely elucidated This includes a detailed recapitulation of the U.S in house puzzlement with regard to productions quotas as the war ramped up How much production was to go to Britain, how much to Russia How much was to remain at home to train our own newly conscripted army How quickly could civilian businesses, say, the car industry, be retooled to produce war materiel At the same time new wartime expenditures were finally pulling the depressed economy out of its long torpor and lowering the unemployment rate to 10% for the first time in a decade.8 Astonishingly, the naval strategies of both Japan and America were the product of one man s thinking American naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan Mahan was both a naval officer and president of the Newport War College His 1890 work The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660 1783 argued that command of the sea was the key to success in war and that the way to secure the sea was to engage the enemy s main force in overwhelming stength and thus destroy it Upon this strategy Japan built what was, with six large carriers, the largest naval air force in the worldembarking some 500 high performance aircraft flown by magnificently trained pilots 9 I like the way each stage of the battles Corregidor and Bataan, Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal, etc is handled briefly and cogently However, this may be where the one volume structure of the book becomes creakiest Or perhaps it s simply that the compromises involved in such a format become obvious here Still, the writing remains strong, vivid.10 Well, you can t accuse Kennedy of faux triumphalism with regard to the early air war over Germany Specifically, the early B 17 missions to Ploesti, Romania, and Regensburg and Schweinfurt, Germany in 1943 He s clearly appalled by the terrors inflicted on the flight crews, the appalling losses of men and materiel given the miniscule gains The sheer suicidal confusion of getting these massive formations into the air, the frostbite the men suffered at operating altitude, the vomiting due to altitude sickness, the inability to relieve oneself on long missions Then at the targets, flak, the fire of the enemy s oncoming Messerschmitts, bits of B 17s blown up while still in formation falling on other B 17 and knocking them out of the sky, the debris which the remaining planes had to fly through And the wretchedly poor accuracy with which the planes delivered their payloads The horror, the horror.

  2. says:

    enlarged review Aug 18 Probably the best historical narrative I ve ever read Why do I say that, I wonder.Perhaps because this tells a story of the time and place that I entered the world I was frankly astounded that I learned so much that seemed so significant, yet which I apparently had not the slightest idea What I had had, perhaps, was a hazy conception of events not known, not remembered, but reflected to me through a mythology passed down to me by the off hand remarks, overheard conversations, even serious discussions I d heard, listened to, even asked questions and received answers in as I passed along life s way, from a young child to an older man.David M Kennedy 1941 is an American historian, and a Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford University His writings have been noted for an integration of economic analysis and cultural analysis with social history and political history He is the current editor of the Oxford History of the United States series In 1970 Kennedy won the Bancroft Prize for his first book Birth Control in America The Career of Margaret Sanger The book reviewed here won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for History Wiki This passage from the Introduction gives a good indication of the sort of information that I found both new and fascinating in Kennedy s book.It was the people who suffered in the Great Depression that receive the author s primary attention, and of them did suffer, and deeply, and longer, than has been generally assumed Southern white sharecroppers averaged an annual cash income of 350, black sharecroppers 294 At wages of 1 a day miners subsisted on a diet suggesting that of domestic animals Emaciated children who never tasted milk wandered the streets, some shoeless in winter, too poorly clad to go to school More surprising than the people s despair was their prevailing submissiveness Much common than rebellion among Americans of those years was a sense of shame and loss of self respect Year after year of depression went by with little or no sign of the recovery promised by politicians.ChaptersThe chapter titles give an idea of the material that Kennedy covers The narrative is primarily a chronological story, with slight overlapping for purposes of subject cohesiveness view spoiler 1 The American People on the Eve of the Great Depression.2 Panic3 The Ordeal of Herbert hoover4 Interregnum5 The Hundred Days6 The Ordeal of the American People7 Chasing the Phantom of Recovery8 The Rumble of Discontent9 A Season for Reform10 Strike 11 The Ordeal of Franklin Roosevelt12 What the New Deal Did13 The Gathering Storm14 The Agony of Neutrality15 To the Brink16 War in the Pacific17 Unready Ally, Uneasy Alliance18 The War of Machines19 The Struggle for a Second Front20 The Battle for Northwest Europe21 The Cauldron of the Home Front22 Endgame23 Epilogue The World the War Made hide spoiler

  3. says:

    Kennedy s excellent summary of the Great Depression, the New Deal and WWII covers so much that its 850 pages are barely sufficient Kennedy s recounting of WWII is primarily useful for someone looking for a concise overview My notes here focus on the depression and attempts at economic recovery finding it relevant to today s discourse regarding the financial crisis of 2008 and the struggle to return to full employment and robust growth As America approached the end of the 1920 s, many contributing factors to the Great Depression were already in play Farmers were already in a depression They were not participating in the prosperity at all Prices didn t cover their costs and they often lived in or near poverty without electricity, running water, adequate heating, a decent education, and access to medical care Many moved to the city where all these things were available, but increasing productivity kept farm prices low Farmers were on a tread mill, raising to make ends meet and in turn further driving down prices New 1924 laws essentially shut down immigration stifling population growth that had been an important element of increasing demand which supported economic growth Corporate profits soared but so did income inequality and most consumers could not keep up thus neither could demand Credit which had become available in 1919 for automobiles with the advent of GMAC was now tapped out for most people It all sounds familiar The 1929 stock market crash was not initially a major factor, but it did dry up commercial credit which most importantly impacted the payment of German, French and English WWI debt to the US which later would greatly increase the severity of the downturn The immediate problem was unemployment as industry curtailed production in response to falling demand, in turn credit dried up, and banks failed as loans could not be repaid in a relentless cycle.Exacerbating this downward spiral was the limited information the government had about the economy, a lack of understanding of the impact of government policies on the economy and the gold standard which hamstrung the Federal Reserve forcing it to reduce the money supply and induce deflation Even in late 1930 few comprehended the severity of the downturn Many looked upon it as a normal business cycle blip similar to the short lived one in 1921 Government actions were counterproductive The Hawley Smoot tariff was enacted which not only raised prices in the US but led to worldwide nationalism and reduced trade With Europe unable to pay its debts and its banks failing, Hoover engineered a standstill agreement which put pressure on the creditors, US banks, contributing to an escalating cycle of bank runs and failures The Fed then raised interest rates to support the Gold standard, considered sacrosanct in the prevalent conservative thinking This further tightened credit and damaged the economy Hoover then chimed in raising taxes to again support gold and the currency thinking this would enable businesses to borrow, but without demand there was no reason to borrow His action was another example of the failure of supply side trickledown economics.Hoover did take some positive action The Banking Act of 1932 increased acceptable collateral for Federal Reserve Loans and notes The Reconstruction Finance Corporation made credit available to banks, railroads and agricultural stabilization corporations that Hoover had established in 1929 in an attempt to stabilize farm prices Unfortunately even when Hoover had the right ideas he was too slow to implement and his initiatives were underfunded His refusal as a matter of principle to provide direct relief was immoral amidst the widespread hardship which left people helpless and hopeless Unemployment reached a high of 25% in 1933 when FDR became president He immediately announced a bank holiday and then held a special session of Congress with the Emergency Banking Act ready to go to restore liquidity to the banking system FDR s first fireside chat was very important in generating the confidence people needed to start again depositing money in the banks FDR was quickly a hero His next two steps were to pay farmers not to grow crops AAA thus curtailing supply and supporting farm prices and to go off of the gold standard inducing inflation which would help those in debt FDR put youth to work in the CCC, provided unemployment assistance to states through FERA, funded new construction through the PWA and established an emergency relief fund outside of the regular budget He started the TVA bringing jobs, development and electricity to the impoverished Tennessee Valley The NRA, a program that became synonymous with the New Deal, was established to control production, wages and prices setting aside anti trust laws The FDIC was passed by congress FDR s First Hundred Days ended on June 16 with 15 bills passed and a new feeling that something is being done.But in 1935, unemployment was still at 20% and despite all FDR s actions people were still suffering and losing confidence FDR kept at it, now with a controversial Second New Deal , programs designed not to be temporary and to be large enough make a difference The ERAA authorized the WPA which put 250,000 men to work by 1936 building bridges roads and other significant infrastructure projects He got passed the REA which brought electricity to farms across the country Projects were also financed to employ artists and writers Social Security providing old age pensions and unemployment insurance was the other big part of this second new deal although it would not pay old age benefits until 1940 ADC was included to help the many women with children abandoned by their fathers The Fair Labor Standards Act setting a 40 cent minimum wage and 40 hour work week was the last New Deal legislation to pass.Things got better but in 1937 the economy again turned sharply down The cause was the sharp drop in federal spending after the prior year s speeded up payment of WWI veterans bonuses, increased social security taxes and reductions in WPA projects The federal government was now running a surplus Somehow FDR still seemed to think a balanced budget was important Also the Fed tightened the money supply These factors quickly reversed the recovery Keynes game changing The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money came out in 1936 espousing deficit spending to stimulate the economy Keynes wrote FDR to try this He did so but far too little to make a difference In 1938 10 million were still unemployed, only the spending for the war in 1941 would pull the country out of depression The New Deal did not redistribute income nor did it nationalize assets It did provide security and transparency The SEC now required reporting and auditing to limit speculation in stocks The Glass Steagle Act of 1933 separated investment banking from retail banking limiting risk Sadly, this protection was eliminated in the 1990 s contributing to the severity of the 2008 financial crisis The FHA and Fanny Mae insured loans and provided a market place for loans to lubricate mortgage placement and home ownership The stated goal of economic recovery was not the goal represented by the actions FDR took Rather his actions restructured the economic system providing stability and security The new idea was that the government had to step in if full employment and equitable distribution of resources was to be achieved This idea was driven by the notion that the age of entrepreneurial growth was over No longer would the titans of industry alone be able to provide growth and never had they provided fairness That private industry alone cannot provide steady full employment and an equitable distribution of income is an idea still relevant today In support of Keynes theory, after WWII Americans went on to great prosperity as the war had driven so much investment in the economy Companies were left with extensive new plants and equipment Through service in the armed forces and as workers in industry many had benefited from education, training and new skills Now as consumers they had money to purchase the goods they produced in a modernized industrial America.

  4. says:

    This book covers U.S history from the 1929 stock market crash, through the Great Depression until the end of WWII The writing is excellent and even though this is a 900 page tome, it is still largely a summary of the events that unfolded in this historic era Because the backdrop of WWII and the Great Depression are fairly well known by students of history, the author does not waste much time with context but marches ahead with the events and treats many lesser known events with equal coverage as the obvious menace of the Nazi s for example.Whether intentional or not, because of the time frame that is examined, this book spends a large amount of time focused on FDR since he was in the thick of it all I think this book is a shining example of how AP US History should be taught to high schoolers Don t get me started on the current AP textbooks This book has a strong narrative voice with a writer s deft touch to maintain the reader s engagement.4.5 stars Arguably the most important period in American History and a period that posed the biggest threat to our nation s unity and existence economically and militarily since the Civil War The only obvious historical gap that I saw was little coverage of the Nazi atrocities.

  5. says:

    This is part of the Oxford History of the United States The book was very well written and very engaging and I would have given 5 stars, but I was expecting something slightly different.The book is basically divided into 2 halves, the depression and WWII I felt that the author did a really good job summarizing the important events of WWII and providing interesting insights into the conflict For the depression, this book does an excellent job covering the political, economic and some demographic and social aspects of the depression I felt that the author was fairly objective in describing such controversial topics as The New Deal, Herbert Hoover, FDR, etc.The problem was that I was expecting a book to inform me about some of the important societal, demographic and technological events that occurred during the Depression Era such as to rise of motion pictures, the Lindbergh baby, or Amelia Earhart This book did not cover such aspects, but makes an excellent first read for a volatile and interesting era in American History.

  6. says:

    Detailed history without losing the story line Took me quite a while to read, but well worth it.

  7. says:

    Freedom From Fear is David Kennedy s Pulitzer Prize winning 850 page dense and detailed look at the United States during the years 1929 1945 In the book, Kennedy does an admirable job of dissecting the 17 year period of American history in a lively and non laborious manner for the reader This is probably one of the two or three most important periods of American history and one where many details get somewhat glossed over in schools due its recentness and due to the fact that it is easier to focus on just a few major events.Before I read this book, I basically knew 10 things about this time period and for the record I got a 5 on the AP US History test in 1992, and yes it was out of 5 1 The 1920s in the US was called the Roaring 20s because it featured profligate spending, a boom in consumer products, a spike in consumer lending, and apparently many lions.2 In the Great Depression, people weren t just sad and depressed, they were also poor and had no jobs and apparently were forced to survive by eating dust out of bowls This was a large percentage of the population and occurred because the stock market crashed due to speculators 3 Herbert Hoover was a crappy president who lost money in real estate by building Hoovervilles during the Great Depression hint don t build real estate when no one can afford to live there.4 FDR was elected due to his grand plan for a New Deal which was well thought out and well received and eventually led to him getting a statue The New Deal helped get the US out of the Great Depression, though not as much as the upcoming war.5 Hitler was a very, very bad person and tried to take over Europe no jokes here, he was really bad, worse than Bill Laimbeer or the guy who created country music Ok, maybe a couple of jokes6 At some point the Japanese and not the Germans, despite what John Belushi said bombed Pearl Harbor and caused the US to attack them The US eventually put Japanese Americans in internment camps not a proud moment in US History, unlike the moon landing, despite 25% of people thinking that the moon landing was a hoax, and yes that figure is right The US later dropped atomic bombs on Japan, even though the allied fire bombing in Germany was just as effective.7 America entered the war in Europe and kicked some Nazi ass The US was aided by the British and helped by Germany s attack on Russia Attacking Russia in the winter is a bad idea, ask Napoleon.8 Wartime production and mobilization was what really helped the US get out of the Great Depression, and not necessarily the programs of the New Deal Women joined the workplace in mass, thanks to some lady named Rosie who liked to flex her muscles in a riveting way 9 Sometime along the way FDR died and Harry S Truman took over The S in Harry S Truman stands for S, which I guess is better than if it stood for Shithead 10 The soldiers came home and went to college and made a lot of babies, thus the moniker baby boom which has now led to an old people boom which is destroying social security, which was started in the New Deal.Thanks to this book, I was able to fill in some gaps in my lagging knowledge and this is what I know now about the ten things I knew beforehand 1 There were no lions.2 The stock market was not the cause of the Great Depression, in fact less than 2.5% of the population owned stocks in 1928 The depression was caused by a multitude of factors stemming from the haggling over WWI reparations in the US and Europe, the reliance of the US on the gold standard, the lack of a centralized stable banking system in the US, the natural ending of a growth cycle with US consumers, the overbuilding and overproduction of machinery especially cars , and numerous other factors Plus, many people were really really poor before the Great Depression and just overlooked by society since they lived in the rural west or the still Jim Crow South The US economy was basically two different economies and the depression brought to light the issues of the very poor.3 Herbert Hoover was actually thought to be the most competent man in America when he was elected president in 1928 and he had a lot of good and right ideas as to how the economy worked and how to spur the US out of the depression Unfortunately, he was unable to implement them in time as he wasn t necessarily a great political manipulator and it was not clear the depths of the coming depression This led Hoover to take the fall for the economic slump He did try to meet with FDR many times after the election and before the inauguration there used to be a four month period between election and inauguration to help stem the falling economy, but FDR blew him off, since FDR would look better if he came into office when the economy was worse FDR was a master politician.4 FDR had no grand New Deal plan when elected In fact, his ideas over the first 100 days were at times conflicting and scattershot where he would have people working on two opposite solutions to the same problem, often without either knowing Through his political savvy he was able to get emergency measures passed and cobble together a number of relief plans to try to help the economy The plans wound up being very progressive, often championed by his Brain Trust of young aides though they perhaps get too much credit , but it is difficult to find one central theme The author argues that the New Deal was really about security Security of job, home, and country Eventually though, the Supreme Court banned many of the New Deal policies, leaving only social security and unemployment insurance FDR had to actually plan around the Supreme Court to pass many of the New Deal policies Things were so contentious that at one point FDR sought to get rid of Supreme Court members in a political failure in 1937 While the economy began to show signs of recovery in 1934, there was another recession in 1937 and 1938 which was due to a lack of capital spend by businesses So six years post New Deal, the economy was still in shambles That said, the programs of the New Deal did put in circuit breakers for the economy to keep it from completely eroding in times of stress.5 Hitler was a very very bad person This book though has very little on Hitler and his atrocities Rather it focuses on the US and US policies towards Hitler 6 The Japanese did in fact bomb Pearl Harbor after the US put an embargo and freeze on Japanese assets in 1941 The hostility between the two had escalated with Japan s war in China and Japan s signing of a pact with Germany and Italy The war in the Pacific lasted until the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki leading to Japan s unconditional surrender a term FDR insisted on earlier in the war The atomic bomb took 2B and 3 years to build and was top secret The Japanese internment was based on completely fabricated information by General John Dewitt, even the Justice Department eventually dismissed his information, but of course, that was after the internment camps had already been up and running thanks to the War Relocation Authority signed by FDR 7 It took a long time for the US to enter the war as for years most of the country believed in isolation Then the US had to spend time building up an incredible inventory of fighting equipment Time and resources were on the US s side Britain and the Russians fought off the Germans while the US supplied materials and artillery It was not until D Day 6 6 44 that the US finally landed ground troops in Europe, despite promising Stalin for almost two years they would enter The allied forces had too much firepower for Germany, thanks to the US Hitler killed himself in April 1945, after Germany had been almost completely defeated 8 The war mobilization effort both got the US out of the depression and won the war This effort worked with big business and took over factories, and produced copious amounts of ships, airplanes, artillery, etc. While there may have been someone named Rosie who did in fact rivet, women mostly worked unskilled jobs in the defense industry riveting was considered skilled labor Blacks also sought to leave their sheltered lives on the fields in the South to join the defense industry but they were shunned It was not until they threatened to march on DC Led by Asa Philip Robinson that FDR created the Fair Practices Employment Committee to ensure blacks had chances Interestingly enough, blacks were relegated to menial roles in the military and military units were segregated Very few black units were allowed to be on the front line, most blacks served as cooks, laborers, etc. In the big picture though, the war economy is what boosted the US out of the depression and while it wasn t easy or immediate, all parts of US society benefited.9 FDR died shortly after his 4th inauguration in April of 1945 he gave the shortest inauguration speech in history as he was very sick Harry S Truman took over and it was his decision to drop the atomic bombs, though it was pretty much a foregone conclusion.10 Social security is one of the few lasting New Deal programs.That just scratches the surface of the 850 pages in this book Kennedy has detailed accounts of war strategy, the Yalta, Teheran, and Potsdam conferences, specific programs within the New Deal, the politics behind the New Deal, FDR s machinations and bargaining, and most importantly, the socio economic effects of all of this on the US and the labor movement The country went through important changes and while it didn t always act in respectable ways FDR refused to sign an anti lynching bill so he could keep southern support, there were Japanese internment camps, US pilots eventually terror bombed enemy cities, the US dropped atomic bombs, etc , the Nazis were defeated, poor people received benefits to vastly improve their way of life, and the country remained intact This book was initially written in two volumes by David Kennedy One called The American People in the Great Depression Freedom from Fear, Part One and the other called The American People in World War II Freedom from Fear, Part Two I only wanted to read the first one on the Great Depression but the Philadelphia library system only has the combined book with both volumes While I initially wasn t particularly thrilled with the prospect of 850 pages on this era, I found the parts on World War II to be interesting than the first volume on the Great Depression, so I guess it worked out ok My apologies to Dave Barry for the initial list.

  8. says:

    The one thing that remains constant as I continue my march through the ages of history of the United States, is that America is a nation that continues to transform and change The two extraordinary events of the Great Depression and World War II helped transform the nation its people The leader though both of these great crises was Franklin D Roosevelt Not since George Washington led us through both the American Revolution and the early days of the national government had one leader impacted the nation s destiny by shaping the country s response to two great national events.Economic depressions had happened before in our country, in the late 1830s, late 1870s, and mid 1890s However the event we now know as the Great Depression lasted longer than any other and came as a great shock because the twenties had been such a boom time Kennedy traces the source of the severity of this depression to the international factors that emerged from World War I In this analysis, Herbert Hoover had been of a victim of events than the cause of them Nevertheless, Hoover no longer had the public s trust nor confidence and the electorate turned him out of office in 1932 What I learned from this book was how the Depression came in waves That it was not right after the stock market crashed that things went bad, but a series of events that continued to torpedo the U.S Economy until it collapsed.When Franklin D Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor move into the White House, the President brought with them Harry Hopkins and Frances Perkins While in Washington they begin to set up the New Deal Kennedy spends a great deal of time discussing the New Deal and its impact The New Deal benefited and continues to benefit the nation Its immediate impact with programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps provided the unemployed temporary employment The New Deal continues to impact us today with Social Security, banking reforms, a minimum wage, and safety regulations for workers Kennedy explains clearly that the New Deal did not end the depression What it did do however, was provide security for the American people from the rough waves of the market The same reason levies are built to protect against floods, the New Deal gave security to so the common people were not completely left exposed to the economic forces beyond their control Roosevelt had prepared the ground well His transparent allusions to less responsible schemes helped convince congressional doubters that the president s measured radicalism was far preferable to the dread Long and Townsend alternatives or the even dread option of a bill introduced by Minnesota representative Ernest Lundeen, which called for unemployment compensation at full wages to all jobless workers, paid for out of general tax revenues and administered by local workers councils After lengthy hearings through an exceptionally crowed legislative season, the Social Security Act became law on August 14, 1935 p.271 Roosevelt was not without his faults however, and those faults were exposed with the Court packing scheme His fault was not an attempt to reform the Court, for the Court for the fifty years prior had been acquiring quite an infamous reputation as the enemy of reform It would impose its own narrow view of the U.S Constitution and use it to undermine progressive legislation that the people had been trying for years to achieve through their elected representatives Roosevelt was able to get the Court to change its tune but the unwise manner in which he did it cost him a great deal of political capital.Then of course comes World War II, with American isolationism at an all time high, Roosevelt did what he could to aid the allies with the Land Lease deal, turning America into an arsenal for democracy However, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, America could no longer turn its back on the war.World War II had some of the history s most affective leaders From the heroic Roosevelt, Churchill, and DeGalle on the allies to the villainous Stalin who fought with the good guys , Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo no side in this conflict lacked for effective leadership There was also a great deal of talented generals and admirals Although having a great deal of talent is nice problem to have it, in part, made Roosevelt s job harder as he had to choose who would lead Operation Overlord and liberate Europe Roosevelt felt that justice demanded that he use George Marshall, however, in the end he felt the right man for the job was Dwight D Eisenhower Eisenhower s studied geniality found an appreciative admired in Franklin Roosevelt, himself an adept scholar of the human psyche and virtuoso practitioner of the recondite craft of leadership Now, flying from Tunis to Sicily for an inspection tour of American troops, Roosevelt the accomplished master instructed Eisenhower the sedulous apprentice in the arts that he must summon and home in his new assignment Huddling in a seat alongside the general as their aircraft droned over the Mediterranean, the president dwelt on the teeming difficulties that awaited Eisenhower in London There he would confront head on, day in a day out, the full majesty of the British Government and the seductive personality of Winston Churchill Churchill still believed, Roosevelt warned, that a failed Channel attack could cost the allies the war and that the risk of failure was large Despite his assurances at Quebec and his submission at Teheran, Churchill had not laid to rest his gnawing anxieties about Overlord It would take all of Eisenhower s skill and resolution, Roosevelt advised, to keep Overlord on schedule p.690 On the Pacific front Fleet Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur had their hands full with Japan Kennedy describes the War in the Pacific as one brutal blood bath The amount of blood and gore that went on in this side of the war played as a major factor for Harry S Truman to use the Atomic Bomb When the battle officially ended on June 22, only some 7,000 of the original 77,000 remained alive The fighting had also killed over 100,000 Okianawan civilians The Americans suffered 7,613 killed or missing, 31,807 wounded, and 26,211 non battle casualties on the island, a nearly 35 percent casualty rate, in addition to the nearly 5,000 who dies and 4,824 who were wounded at sea Among the dead were Buckner, his chest sundered by a Japanese shell fragment, as well as the celebrated war correspondent Ernie Pyle, felled by a sniper s bullet The awful carnage on Okinawa, like that on Iwo Jima, weighed heavily on the minds of American policymakers as they now contemplated the war s endgame p.834 This book is covers so much in under a thousand pages One thousand seems like a lot, but for the amount of information the reader receives it is actually quite a low number Kennedy does not go into a great deal about the Holocaust primarily because this book is about the United States, but he does discuss how the people in the United States had a difficult time in the absorbing what was actually happening to the Jews and other undesirables of Germany The book also covers the American home front, the status of African Americans and other racial minorities, and the changing attitudes about the role of women as a result of the war Kennedy goes over the horrible internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and the tragic case of Fred Korematsu I really appreciate Kennedy s take on the average American before and after these two events.On a technical side note I would once again say that I appreciate the Oxford series for leaving the footnotes at the bottom of the pages they are on and not at the end of the book It makes looking at sources easy and does not distract from the general narrative.Freedom from Fear is a wonderful book which I highly recommend to anyone Like the rest of this series I find its depth incredible without being overwhelming.

  9. says:

    In Time s Man of the Year edition, they outlined some works in Ben Bernanke s library I picked up several of them, including this one on the Great Depression This work is yet another tome, 900 pages or so but well worth the read The first half is devoted to the causes and results of the Great Depression Sadly, since Reagan took office, there has been a wholesale dismantling of the protections put in place in reaction to the Depression I literally covered the first half of the book with highlighted sections You could just as easily replaced 1920s with 2000s The similarities were absurd Our nation literally walked into this mess with volumes of information that could have prevented this fall, if only the warnings were headed Unfortunately, the modern society we ve created no longer has the ability to put effort into studying the past So we basically deserve the predicament we re currently in, as we will be the next time a situation like this arises The second half of the book presents the war that helped pull us from the economic decline The work provides an in depth analysis of the situation, and moves forward with a quick pace that easily settles any issue one would have with the volume of the work A realistic assessment as to the how and why of victory appear came into focus The optimist will see a great future for our country, considering the work and effort that went into the war The pessimist will note that our country no longer possesses the strategic advantages the U.S had in the 1940s Either way, the read will ultimately be rewarding and enjoyable The knowledge gained will be invaluable.

  10. says:

    Solid book A wealth of information concerning the New Deal programs and the depths of the Depression Kennedy seems to go out of his way to if not exonerate at least to try very hard to paint Herbert Hoover as a victim of circumstance than anything else in regards to his mis handling of the Depression While Hoover did make some valiant attempts to right the economy, I am not so sure that he deserves the pass that Kennedy gives him Kennedy does a superb job in deftly weaving together the positives and negatives of FDR s continuously shifting leadership style I think attention should have been paid to Harry Truman assuming the presidency upon FDR s death Kennedy does not write much about that, but I think it was a huge moment in history.

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