In the fall of 1929, the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression. Even when stock prices fell dramatically at the beginning of September, no one could have predicted the long-term implications. On October 29, known as “Black Tuesday,” the stock market in the United States had collapsed to its lowest point in history. After this, the world was plunged into an unprecedented economic crisis that lasted until the 1930s. Everyone’s finances were tight, whether of wealth or poverty. In the midst of soaring unemployment and a decline in global trade, the United States has become a terrifying place to live.
And yet individuals persevered in their daily lives and fought on, no matter how difficult their circumstances were. From Plennie Wingo’s record-breaking journeys to a grandfather’s hidden acts of compassion, the following stories about the Great Depression show us that some people even became heroes during this time. Others had to deal with additional difficulties, such as the destruction of their homes by dust storms, while an entire country underwent a huge culinary revolution. From 1929 through 1939, the world was in the grip of the Great Depression. Regardless, the books below reveal remarkable stories of heroism, transformation, and corruption.
The Coming of the New Deal By Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
During their first 100 days in office, presidents are intensely scrutinized. When it comes to implementing new policies, the new administration’s capacity to raise or reduce the nation’s spirits is evaluated. Roosevelt faced further scrutiny as president in 1933 because he was dealing with a country in distress.
Within his first 100 days, he successfully raised the spirits of the nation and set in motion the New Deal, which was essential in helping the country recover from its Great Depression. This book covers Roosevelt’s first two years in office, not just his first 100 days.
The Great Depression: A Diary By Benjamin Roth
Benjamin Roth, a lawyer from Youngstown, Ohio, wrote this firsthand account of the Great Depression. After the stock market’s collapse, he and many other middle-class Americans found themselves in a precarious position. Law firms, as well as many other businesses, saw a decline in revenue due to the economic downturn. Here, Roth chronicles not only his own financial struggles but also those of the nation as a whole, from protests to mass layoffs and all in between.
A Rabble of Dead Money By Charles R. Morris
The causes of the Great Crash of 1929 are examined in depth in this book. For more than a decade, national and economic growth were stalled due to the stock market crisis, which scuppered the United States’ ascension to superpower status. Charles Morris investigates the impact of the crisis on the world, as well as the worldwide forces that contributed to the rise and fall of the American economy during this period of time.
A Commonwealth of Hope By Alan Lawson
The Great Depression and the policies aimed at rescuing the United States from it are examined in great detail in this book. It is Lawson’s job to look at how the New Deal was conceived, developed, and implemented. He traces the emergence of the New Deal’s framework using archival sources, such as accounts from the time period’s newspapers and journals, as well as data from the Roosevelt administration.
The Man Who Walked Backward By Ben Montgomery
Many Americans devised money-making schemes and aspired to be famous while they struggled to make ends meet. Someone like Plennie Wingo, a native of Abilene, Texas—even if his journey to fame (and the tactics by which he arrived there) were unusual: When Plennie donned a pair of steel-heeled shoes in April 1931, he set out on a journey around the world in reverse. But this 36-year-old explorer discovered so much more on his mission to acquire sponsors and a bankable identity. As Plennie traveled across Steinbeck’s America, then to Nazi-occupied Germany, and beyond, her journey was full of unforgettable encounters that give a distinct picture of the Great Depression period in the 1930s.
Since Yesterday By Frederick Lewis Allen
From 1929 through 1939, the Great Depression ensnared the United States in a suffocating grip. Some stability was restored in 1933 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected, but full recovery was still a long way off—and there were other speed bumps in the road of it. In spite of the decade’s turmoil, new rituals, diversions, and technologies were introduced that forever reshaped American culture. Readers are taken on a journey during this ten-year period, which chronicles the country’s sluggish recovery from its greatest economic depression.
Hard Times By Studs Terkel
Through the use of words taken directly from the mouths of Great Depression survivors, Studs Terkel has captured an entire generation with his book Hard Times. People like C. Wright Patman and Hamilton Fish, as well as small-time Oklahoma farmers, provide testimony in this volume. There is a rich and varied tapestry of human experience as a record of the 1930s and a testimony to the American spirit’s perseverance.
Once in Golconda By John Brooks
In contrast to most accounts of the Great Depression that begin with the fall of 1929, John Brooks’ “True Drama of Wall Street” begins with the bull markets of the 1920s before the crash. American investors and bankers seemed to be on top of the world during the interwar period when the stock market appeared to be invincible.
What caused such a rapid deterioration from wealth to catastrophe? Using the ancient city of Golconda in India as a starting point, Brooks relates the story of Wall Street’s highs and lows. As long as the myths were true, everybody who passed through Golconda was rewarded with incredible fortune.
The Day the Bubble Burst By Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts
In the 1920s, Americans had a naïve optimism when it came to finance, business, and government policy. They believed that nothing could possibly go wrong. These beliefs were proven to be false on October 29, 1929, when the “invincible” US stock market collapsed, bringing the entire global economy down with it. An interesting history of the Great Depression that doesn’t feel like it was taken off a dusty shelf is revealed in this New York Times bestseller about the strong men behind the scenes and the ordinary citizens who experienced the repercussions of their actions.