The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression
By Amity Shlaes
HarperCollins, 2007. 464 pgs. Nonfiction
Shlaes takes a look at the Great Depression from a financial standpoint and examines how the main characters involved in the economic crisis did not fully understand the financial workings of it. She also details the stories of people I never learned about in school who had an impact on the Depression. Shlaes talks about how the Depression and New Deal affected the “Forgotten Man” and how both political parties used that phrase for different ends. Shlaes' large examination of Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and how he conducted business during the Depression through the New Deal and other efforts will infuriate you regardless of your political beliefs and feelings about FDR. You will either be appalled at the seemingly random way he targeted businesses, people, and the Supreme Court justices or you will be appalled that Shlaes think he did all those things as part of a mighty power struggle.
This was a hard book for me to finish. I love history, but the economics in this book went over my head at times and made the reading somewhat tedious. Shlaes also recounts the tales of so many people that I just could not remember who some of them were. She also included some details that I felt were unnecessary and dragged the narrative down a bit. But it was a somewhat interesting look at how the people in Washington and others prolonged the Great Depression.