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The Great Depression Books

Alan Brinkley, Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin & The Great Depression (1982)

Brinkley's detailed study explores the politics of resentment and the populist demagogues who rode them to fame and power. The best resource for understanding the Kingfish, the Radio Priest, and their impact on 1930s America.

Richard Lowitt and Maurine Beasley, eds., One Third of a Nation: Lorena Hickok Reports on the Great Depression (1981)

Lorena Hickok—journalist and intimate confidant of Eleanor Roosevelt—traveled the country in 1933 and 1934, gathering intelligence on the conditions of life for ordinary Americans in order to help the New Deal's relief effort work more efficiently. Her humane letters, collected here, detail the heartbreaking conditions of the American people after five years of Depression, and rank among the best primary sources for understanding life in America during the 1930s.

Studs Terkel, Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (1970)

Studs Terkel's collection of oral histories of life during hard times is another fantastic resource for anyone interested in understanding what the Great Depression was really like.

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.

Michael Denning, The Cultural Front (1997)

Denning's provocative, challenging work suggests that left-wing activists associated with the Communist Party during the Popular Front period of the late 1930s had an influence that traveled far beyond the Communists' own ranks, forever altering American culture.

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