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Roosevelt, the Great Depression, and the Economics of Recovery

Elliot A. Rosen

BUY Paper · 288 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813926964 · $21.50 · Jul 2007
BUY Ebook · 288 pp. · ISBN 9780813934273 · $21.50 · Oct 2012

Historians have often speculated on the alternative paths the United Stages might have taken during the Great Depression: What if Franklin D. Roosevelt had been killed by one of Giuseppe Zangara’s bullets in Miami on February 17, 1933? Would there have been a New Deal under an administration led by Herbert Hoover had he been reelected in 1932? To what degree were Roosevelt’s own ideas and inclinations, as opposed to those of his contemporaries, essential to the formulation of New Deal policies?

In Roosevelt, the Great Depression, and the Economics of Recovery, the eminent historian Elliot A. Rosen examines these and other questions, exploring the causes of the Great Depression and America’s recovery from it in relation to the policies and policy alternatives that were in play during the New Deal era. Evaluating policies in economic terms, and disentangling economic claims from political ideology, Rosen argues that while planning efforts and full-employment policies were essential for coping with the emergency of the depression, from an economic standpoint it is in fact fortunate that they did not become permanent elements of our political economy. By insisting that the economic bases of proposals be accurately represented in debating their merits, Rosen reveals that the productivity gains, which accelerated in the years following the 1929 stock market crash, were more responsible for long-term economic recovery than were governmental policies.

Based on broad and extensive archival research, Roosevelt, the Great Depression, and the Economics of Recovery is at once an erudite and authoritative history of New Deal economic policy and timely background reading for current debates on domestic and global economic policy.


"Writing in a lucid, nontechnical language, Rosen demonstrates how battles over economic theories shaped the New Deal and transformed the role of government in America. Rosen identifies the combatants clearly, describes their arguments cogently, and suggests why they took the positions they did. Based on extensive research over many years, this is an indispensable book for anyone who wants to understand the New Deal’s importance."—Kendrick A. Clements, University of South Carolina

"Elliot A. Rosen... has long engaged with the wide-ranging debates surrounding the interwar economic crisis of the 1930s, and he has now contributed a well-written, strongly researched, and confident history of New Deal economic policy."—Journal of American History

"Rosen provides a clear, detailed, and effective review of the diversity and development of public policy analysis and debate in the United States during the 1930s.... There are discussions of the transition phase between Hoover and Roosevelt, international trade and financial policies, fiscal issues, New Deal policies for industry and agriculture, welfare programs, and the intense debates over planning and intervention prompted by the 1937–1938 recession. "... For business historians, the study provides an overview of economic thought in the 1930s with a good bibliography. It would be of particular value to those interested in the backgrounds and connections of the numerous businessmen who supported, worked in, or opposed the New Deal."—Business History Review

"Rosen’s erudition and authority are impressive; the organization is logical; the style is lucid. I doubt if anyone knows more about 1930s economic policy."—Theodore Rosenof, author of Economics in the Long Run: New Deal Theorists and Their Legacies, 1933–1993

About the Author: 

Elliot A. Rosen is Professor Emeritus of History at Rutgers University and the author of Hoover, Roosevelt, and the Brains Trust: From Depression to New Deal.

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