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American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work

by

American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

If you've traveled the nation's highways, flown into New York's LaGuardia Airport, strolled San Antonio's River Walk, or seen the Pacific Ocean from the Beach Chalet in San Francisco, you have experienced some part of the legacy of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) — one of the enduring cornerstones of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.

When President Roosevelt took the oath of office in March 1933, he was facing a devastated nation. Four years into the Great Depression, a staggering 13 million American workers were jobless and many millions more of their family members were equally in need. Desperation ruled the land.

What people wanted were jobs, not handouts: the pride of earning a paycheck; and in 1935, after a variety of temporary relief measures, a permanent nationwide jobs program was created. This was the Works Progress Administration, and it would forever change the physical landscape and the social policies of the United States.

The WPA lasted for eight years, spent $11 billion, employed eight and a half million men and women, and gave the country not only a renewed spirit but a fresh face. Under its colorful head, Harry Hopkins, the agency's remarkable accomplishment was to combine the urgency of putting people back to work with its vision of physically rebuilding America. Its workers laid roads, erected dams, bridges, tunnels, and airports. They stocked rivers, made toys, sewed clothes, served millions of hot school lunches. When disasters struck, they were there by the thousands to rescue the stranded. And all across the country the WPA's arts programs performed concerts, staged plays, painted murals, delighted children with circuses, created invaluable guidebooks. Even today, more than sixty years after the WPA ceased to exist, there is almost no area in America that does not bear some visible mark of its presence.

Politically controversial, the WPA was staffed by passionate believers and hated by conservatives; its critics called its projects make-work and wags said it stood for We Piddle Around. The contrary was true. We have only to look about us today to discover its lasting presence.

Review:

"Launched in 1935, at the bottom of the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) served as a linchpin of FDR's 'New Deal.' Through the WPA, Roosevelt put millions of unemployed Americans to work on public construction projects, from dams and courthouses to parks and roads. The WPA's Federal Writers Project employed a host of artists and writers (among them Jackson Pollock, Saul Bellow, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston and Studs Terkel); theater and musical artists also received funding. Taylor (Ordinary Miracles: Life in a Small Church) vividly and painstakingly paints the full story of the WPA from its inception to its shutdown by Congress in 1943, at which point the war boom in manufacturing had made it unnecessary. In an eloquent and balanced appraisal, Taylor not only chronicles the WPA's numerous triumphs (including New York's LaGuardia Airport) but also its failures, most notably graft and other chicanery at the local level. Taylor details as well the dicey intramural politics in Congress over which states and districts would get the largest slice of the WPA pie. All told, Taylor's volume makes for a splendid appreciation of the WPA with which to celebrate the upcoming 75th anniversary of the New Deal's beginnings in 1933." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"In 1914 Henry Ford appalled his fellow automobile manufacturers by raising wages to $5 per day. This was twice the industry standard, and it prompted cries that Ford was spoiling workers for everyone else in the business. He justified the move on grounds that it was good not only for Ford Motor but for the American economy as a whole. 'Our own sales depend in a measure upon the wages we pay,' he said.... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Readable and vividly rendered — a near-definitive account of one of the most massive government interventions into domestic affairs in American history." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"Taylor has written a passionate defense of a program that millions saw as a godsend." Booklist

Review:

"[The WPA's] follies and triumphs are praised and critiqued here in a readable, often investigative, and apparently first full retrospective....It will be a boon to all 20th-century history collections." Library Journal

Review:

"An immensely detailed book telling the epic story of an equally immense agency." New Hampshire Business Review

Book News Annotation:

In response to massive poverty, rampant unemployment, breadlines, and "Hooverville" shantytowns during the Great Depression, the Roosevelt administration initiated the Works Progress Administration under the leadership of Harry Hopkins as a means of putting people back to work and as a lynchpin of its New Deal program. This is a history of the WPA that describes its origins, the political controversies over its activities, its contributions to the national infrastructure and eventually to the war effort, and the cultural legacy of its arts programs. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

Timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of FDRs New Deal, this work is the first comprehensive look at one of the most controversial, humane, and enduring programs ever: the Works Progress Administration, which put more than eight million Americans back to work after the Great Depression. Includes two 16-page photo inserts.

Video

About the Author

Nick Taylor is the author of seven nonfiction books and collaborated with John Glenn on his memoir. He lives in New York City.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780553802351
Subtitle:
The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work
Author:
Taylor, Nick
Publisher:
Bantam
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
United States - 20th Century/Depression
Subject:
History
Subject:
Job creation
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20080226
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
2 16-PP PHOTO INSERTS
Pages:
640
Dimensions:
9.36x6.42x1.70 in. 2.14 lbs.

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Related Subjects


History and Social Science » US History » 1920 to 1960
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General

American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work Used Hardcover
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$9.95 In Stock
Product details 640 pages Bantam - English 9780553802351 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Launched in 1935, at the bottom of the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) served as a linchpin of FDR's 'New Deal.' Through the WPA, Roosevelt put millions of unemployed Americans to work on public construction projects, from dams and courthouses to parks and roads. The WPA's Federal Writers Project employed a host of artists and writers (among them Jackson Pollock, Saul Bellow, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston and Studs Terkel); theater and musical artists also received funding. Taylor (Ordinary Miracles: Life in a Small Church) vividly and painstakingly paints the full story of the WPA from its inception to its shutdown by Congress in 1943, at which point the war boom in manufacturing had made it unnecessary. In an eloquent and balanced appraisal, Taylor not only chronicles the WPA's numerous triumphs (including New York's LaGuardia Airport) but also its failures, most notably graft and other chicanery at the local level. Taylor details as well the dicey intramural politics in Congress over which states and districts would get the largest slice of the WPA pie. All told, Taylor's volume makes for a splendid appreciation of the WPA with which to celebrate the upcoming 75th anniversary of the New Deal's beginnings in 1933." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Readable and vividly rendered — a near-definitive account of one of the most massive government interventions into domestic affairs in American history."
"Review" by , "Taylor has written a passionate defense of a program that millions saw as a godsend."
"Review" by , "[The WPA's] follies and triumphs are praised and critiqued here in a readable, often investigative, and apparently first full retrospective....It will be a boon to all 20th-century history collections."
"Review" by , "An immensely detailed book telling the epic story of an equally immense agency."
"Synopsis" by , Timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of FDRs New Deal, this work is the first comprehensive look at one of the most controversial, humane, and enduring programs ever: the Works Progress Administration, which put more than eight million Americans back to work after the Great Depression. Includes two 16-page photo inserts.
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