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Best of the Web

David M. Kennedy, Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 (2000)

Kennedy's massive, magisterial history of the Roosevelt era weighs in at 936 pages and perhaps ten pounds. But the prose is much lighter, and no survey of the Depression and wartime era offers such a comprehensive narrative.

William E. Leuchtenberg, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1940 (1963)

Excellent short history of the legislative history of the New Deal years, written with interpretive flair and stylistic panache. Still useful, even 45 years after publication.

Steve Fraser and Gary Gerstle, eds., The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order (1990)

Fascinating, if fairly academic, collection of essays by many of our leading scholars that re-examines old assumptions about the origins and consequences of the New Deal and its eventual repudiation at the hands of "Reagan Democrats."

Lizabeth Cohen, Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939 (1990)

Cohen's pathbreaking study of industrial workers in Chicago moves beyond the usual "top-down" approach, showing very convincingly how pressure exerted by workers themselves from the "bottom up" made the New Deal a reality.

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