The Great Depression, Lorena Hickok, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Shaping of the New Deal
By Michael Golay
(Free Press, Hardcover, 9781439196014, 336pp.)
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
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DURING THE HARSHEST year of the Great Depression, Lorena Hickok, a top woman news reporter of the day and intimate friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, was hired by FDR’s right-hand man Harry Hopkins to embark upon a grueling journey to the hardest-hit areas of the country to report back on the degree of devastation.
Distinguished historian Michael Golay draws on a trove of original sources—including the moving, remarkably intimate, almost daily letters between Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt—as he re-creates that extraordinary journey. Hickok traveled by car almost nonstop for eighteen months, from January 1933 to August 1934, surviving hellish dust storms, rebellions by coal workers in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and a near revolution by Midwest farmers. A brilliant observer, Hickok wrote searing and deeply empathetic reports to Hopkins and letters to Mrs. Roosevelt that comprise an unparalleled record of the worst economic disaster in the history of the country. Historically important, they crucially influenced the scope and strategy of the Roosevelt administration’s unprecedented relief efforts.
America 1933 reveals Hickok’s pivotal contribution to the policies of the New Deal and sheds light on her intense but ill-fated relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt and the forces that inevitably came between them.
Michael Golay has taught history at Phillips Exeter Academy since 2000. He is the author of three books, including A Ruined Land: The End of the Civil War, a finalist for the Lincoln Prize in American History. He lives in Exeter, New Hampshire.
?eoeA gem of narrative history. Michael Golay weaves together Lorena Hickok's beautifully observed field reports for Roosevelt public works czar, Harry Hopkins, with her moving personal letters to Eleanor Roosevelt, to give us a powerful account of the immense human tragedy of the Great Depression. He shines new light on the inventiveness of the Roosevelt relief efforts and provides an inspiring tale of a government that worked effectively to meet the needs of its people.? This book should be assigned reading for the Obama White House and for all those in Congress who stand in the way of the president's efforts to lead us through our own challenging times.?e
-Ellen Chesler, Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and author of Woman of Valor
?eoeDuring Lorena Hickok?e(TM)s harrowing journey among angry farmers, defeated miners, and frightened shop owners, a desperate old woman took?her?arm and whispered: ?e~Don?e(TM)t forget me, honey. Don?e(TM)t forget me.?e(TM) No one who reads?America 1933?will forget her or the rest of them. There?may be no?finer documentary account of the Great Depression?e"not only the material deprivation but the psychic costs.?e
-James Tobin, author of Ernie Pyle?e(TM)s War: American Eyewitness to World War II
?eoeA vivid and event-filled snapshot of a pivotal year during some of the darkest days in U.S. history. With fluid and affecting prose, Golay looks at the role Eleanor Roosevelt and her intimate friend Lorena Hickok played in helping shape some of the most important aspects of FDR?e(TM)s New Deal.?America 1933?offers historical delights, outsized characters, wonderful vignettes, two seductive central characters, and a feeling that you are really seeing America as it was then. It is particularly resonant as the country once again tries to emerge from a profound economic crisis and its concomitant social unease.?e
-Amy Wilentz, author of Farewell, Fred Voodoo
?eoe[A] gripping, painful account.?e
?eoeProvides an intimate glimpse into the afflicted heartland as Hickok crisscrossed the nation?e?An invaluable contribution to the scholarship of the era.?e
?eoe[A] highly detailed, richly referenced portrait.?e
?eoeEminently readable and accessible.?e
?eoe[A] masterful re-creation?e