A Secret Gift

How One Man's Kindness--and a Trove of Letters--Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression

By Ted Gup; Mark Deakins (Read by)
(Random House Audio, Compact Disc, 9780307578037)

Publication Date: November 9, 2010

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback, Hardcover, Hardcover

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Summer 2012 Reading Group
“A suitcase of letters leads Ted Gup on a journey to his hometown of Canton, Ohio, during the heart of the Great Depression. A Secret Gift is a wonderful look at one man's generosity in a time of despair and how the human spirit survives even the most difficult times. Gup weaves the tale of the lives of those touched by the secret letters and their descendants with great care and charm.”
-- Sam Droke-Dickinson, Aaron's Books, Lititz, PA
Selected by Indie Booksellers for the November 2010 Indie Next List


Description

Shortly before Christmas 1933 in Depression-scarred Canton, Ohio, a small newspaper ad offered cash gifts to seventy-five families in distress. Readers were asked to send letters describing their hardships to a benefactor calling himself Mr. B. Virdot. The author’s grandfather, Sam Stone, was inspired to place this ad and help his fellow Cantonians as they prepared for the cruelest Christmas most of them would ever endure.

Moved by the stories of suffering and hope in the letters, which he discovered in a suitcase seventy-five years later, Ted Gup first set out to unveil the lives behind them, searching for records and relatives to flesh out the family sagas hinted at in those letters. From these sources, Gup has re-created the impact that B. Virdot’s gift had on each family.

But as he uncovered the suffering and triumphs of dozens of strangers, Gup also learned that Sam Stone was far more complex than the lovable-retiree persona he’d always shown his grandson. Gup solves a singular family mystery even as he pulls away the veil of eight decades that separate us from the hardships that united America during the Depression.




About the Author

Ted Gup is the author of the bestseller The Book of Honor and Nation of Secrets. A former investigative reporter for The Washington Post and Time magazine, he has also written for the New York Times, Newsweek, GQ, Slate, and Salon.

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