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Bookclub Selection: The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes

A year ago, I joined a most excellent book club that meets monthly to discuss books that tilt toward a political nature – both left and right. We meet in the club room of a cigar store, enjoying cigars and brandy. Every now and then we are treated to French Absinthe. As I am the only non-smoker of the club, I pass on the cigars, but enjoy participating in the lively discussions. I find it is a privilege to be including among the members of this bookclub, as they are all knowledgeable and seasoned by life.

This month we are discussing ‘The Forgotten Man’ authored by Amity Shlaes.

Amity Shlaes revisits the late 20′s and early 30′s to investigate the net effect of Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ on the lives and fortunes of average Americans.

Back cover description:

Amity Shlaes takes us back to show us how the roots of our disillusionment can be found in a single election year, 1936. In that year, Franklin Roosevelt systematically established the modern political constituency, from unions to artists, to senior citizens. Roosevelt’s solution was to spend for these groups, so extensively that federal spending that year outpaced state and local spending, for the first time ever in peacetime. The consequence was the Roosevelt landslide of 1936 –but also the modern entitlement trap. Roosevelt often spoke of the Forgotten Man, the man “at the bottom of the economic pyramid.” Yet, Miss Shlaes shows, his New Deal created a new forgotten man, the man who subsidizes the funding of other constituencies — and who haunts politics in all developed nations today.

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4 responses to “Bookclub Selection: The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes

  1. neocon

    Increasing taxes on the wealthy, waging class warfare, having the government micro manage the econonmy and try to “create” jobs, It is deja vu all over again!

  2. Nick in Jersey

    I read Forgotten Man last year. I’d put it in the good-but-not-compelling category – right next to Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism – and I wish both had been better. In Schlaes’ case, the bright thread of the Forgotten Man as a different creature than the one of whom Roosevelt spoke got lost in the larger fabric of the depression. I think making that thread made more clear through her overall history of the Depression would have made her case stronger.

    That said, her account is a long-overdue to the ubiquitous left-leaning Depression histories out there. It’s very much worth reading.

  3. Tania

    The book makes one think about the Depression in a new light.

    Thanks for commenting!

  4. PapaMAS

    Nick’s comments are spot-on. A good book, kind of densely packed with names and goings on, but it does show the motivations of Roosevelt and his ilk. Definitely a must read.

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