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1 Beaverton US History- 1800 to 1945

A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness -- And a Trove of Letters -- Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression

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A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness -- And a Trove of Letters -- Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression Cover

ISBN13: 9781594202704
ISBN10: 1594202702
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Awards

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An inspiring account of America at its worst — and Americans at their best — woven from the stories of Depression-era families who were helped by gifts from the author's generous and secretive grandfather.

Shortly before Christmas 1933 in Depression-scarred Canton, Ohio, a small newspaper ad offered $10, no strings attached, to 75 families in distress. Interested readers were asked to submit 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 assist his fellow Cantonians as they prepared for the cruelest Christmas most of them would ever witness.

Moved by the tales of suffering and expressions of hope contained in the letters, which he discovered in a suitcase 75 years later, Ted Gup initially set out to unveil the lives behind them, searching for records and relatives all over the country who could help him flesh out the family sagas hinted at in those letters. From these sources, Gup has re-created the impact that Mr B. Virdot's gift had on each family. Many people yearned for bread, coal, or other necessities, but many others received money from B. Virdot for more fanciful items — a toy horse, say, or a set of encyclopedias. As Gup's investigations revealed, all these things had the power to turn people's lives around — even to save them.

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 unearths deeply buried details about Sam's life — from his impoverished, abusive upbringing to felonious efforts to hide his immigrant origins from U.S. officials — that help explain why he felt such a strong affinity to strangers in need. Drawing on his unique find and his award-winning reportorial gifts, Ted Gup solves a singular family mystery even while he pulls away the veil of eight decades that separate us from the hardships that united America during the Depression. In A Secret Gift, he weaves these revelations seamlessly into a tapestry of Depression-era America, which will fascinate and inspire in equal measure.

Review:

"In a book grown out of a New York Times op-ed piece that drew a huge response, Gup (The Book of Honor) explores an unusual act of generosity by his grandfather, Sam Stone, during the Great Depression and other mysteries of Stone's life. Discovering a trunk full of old letters addressed to 'Mr. B. Virdot,' Gup soon learned that the letters were responses to a newspaper ad Stone ran before Christmas 1933, anonymously promising to 75 of Canton, Ohio's neediest families if they wrote letters describing their hardships. (Some of the heartbreaking letters are reprinted here.) But Gup soon learns that Stone had other secrets: the jovial, wealthy businessman had escaped a horrific childhood as a Romanian Jew, immigrating to America and reinventing himself to fit into all-American Canton, Ohio. Gup also tracked down families who benefited from Stone's gift to discover the impact it had on their lives. Gup paints sobering pictures of 'the Hard Times' and the gift made by a successful man who hadn't forgotten his own hard times. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Review:

"Highly affecting emotionally, Gup's empathic portraits should powerfully pique memories in Gup's readers about their own family's experience of the economic trauma of the 1930s." Booklist

Review:

"Gup's narrative style combined with first-person accounts and profiles of the recipient families put a human face on this part of history and make this an inspiring and informative read." Library Journal

Synopsis:

An inspiring account of America at its worst-and Americans at their best-woven from the stories of Depression- era families who were helped by gifts from the author's generous and secretive grandfather.

Shortly before Christmas 1933 in Depression-scarred Canton, Ohio, a small newspaper ad offered $10, no strings attached, to 75 families in distress. Interested readers were asked to submit 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 assist his fellow Cantonians as they prepared for the cruelest Christmas most of them would ever witness.

Moved by the tales of suffering and expressions of hope contained in the letters, which he discovered in a suitcase 75 years later, Ted Gup initially set out to unveil the lives behind them, searching for records and relatives all over the country who could help him flesh out the family sagas hinted at in those letters. From these sources, Gup has re-created the impact that Mr B. Virdot's gift had on each family. Many people yearned for bread, coal, or other necessities, but many others received money from B. Virdot for more fanciful items-a toy horse, say, or a set of encyclopedias. As Gup's investigations revealed, all these things had the power to turn people's lives around- even to save them.

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 unearths deeply buried details about Sam's life-from his impoverished, abusive upbringing to felonious efforts to hide his immigrant origins from U.S. officials-that help explain why he felt such a strong affinity to strangers in need. Drawing on his unique find and his award-winning reportorial gifts, Ted Gup solves a singular family mystery even while he pulls away the veil of eight decades that separate us from the hardships that united America during the Depression. In A Secret Gift, he weaves these revelations seamlessly into a tapestry of Depression-era America, which will fascinate and inspire in equal measure.

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Synopsis:

andquot;A wonderful reminder that economic hardship can bring suffering but can also foster compassion and community.andquot; -The Boston Globe

In hard economic times like these, readers will find bestselling author Ted Gup's unique book uplifting as well as captivating. Inside a suitcase kept in his mother's attic, Gup discovered letters written to his grandfather in response to an ad placed in a Canton, Ohio, newspaper in 1933 that offered cash to seventy-five families facing a devastating Christmas. The author travels coast to coast to unveil the lives behind the letters, describing a range of hardships and recreating in his research the hopes and suffering of Depression-era Americans, even as he uncovers the secret life led by the grandfather he thought he knew.

About the Author

Ted Gup is the author of the bestseller The Book of Honor, winner of the Investigative Reporters and Editors Book-of- the-Year Award, and Nation of Secrets, winner of the Shorenstein Book Prize. He is a professor at and the chair of the Journalism Department at Emerson College. A former investigative reporter for The Washington Post and Time magazine, he has taught at Case Western Reserve University, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing as a Fulbright Scholar. He has written for publications and media outlets such as Smithsonian, National Geographic, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, Sports Illustrated, Slate, GQ, Mother Jones, Audubon, the Columbia Journalism Review, NPR, and Newsweek.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

lindacbugg, November 22, 2010 (view all comments by lindacbugg)
I am more than 1/2 way way thru this book & it is absolutely wonderful! The stories are heartbreaking but in a way that makes you rethink your own life & count your blessings. If only more people today were as willing to help their fellow man without expecting something in return(except for that feeling inside when you know you've made the world a little better)
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Rock, November 3, 2010 (view all comments by Rock)
On the one hand, I have not read the book - yet. On the other hand, Ted wrote a short piece many years ago and read it at a writers workshop I attended where he was a leader. I was blown away by the story. It was about one of the letters he found in the suitcase. A few years ago, in corresponding with Ted, I reminded him of that great piece. Now he has returned to that suitcase and written a book. I am sure the book will be every bit as good as the piece - Ted's craftsmanship is that superb.
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(2 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781594202704
Subtitle:
How One Man's Kindness--and a Trove of Letters--Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression
Author:
Gup, Ted
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
United States - 20th Century/Depression
Subject:
United States - State & Local - Midwest
Subject:
Philanthropy & Charity
Subject:
US History - 20th Century
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20111025
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16 pp. b/w photos
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9.32 x 6.4 x 1.29 in 1.4 lb
Age Level:
17-17

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
History and Social Science » American Studies » 20s to 40s
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » US History » 1800 to 1945
History and Social Science » US History » 1920 to 1960
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness -- And a Trove of Letters -- Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Penguin Press - English 9781594202704 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In a book grown out of a New York Times op-ed piece that drew a huge response, Gup (The Book of Honor) explores an unusual act of generosity by his grandfather, Sam Stone, during the Great Depression and other mysteries of Stone's life. Discovering a trunk full of old letters addressed to 'Mr. B. Virdot,' Gup soon learned that the letters were responses to a newspaper ad Stone ran before Christmas 1933, anonymously promising to 75 of Canton, Ohio's neediest families if they wrote letters describing their hardships. (Some of the heartbreaking letters are reprinted here.) But Gup soon learns that Stone had other secrets: the jovial, wealthy businessman had escaped a horrific childhood as a Romanian Jew, immigrating to America and reinventing himself to fit into all-American Canton, Ohio. Gup also tracked down families who benefited from Stone's gift to discover the impact it had on their lives. Gup paints sobering pictures of 'the Hard Times' and the gift made by a successful man who hadn't forgotten his own hard times. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Review" by , "Highly affecting emotionally, Gup's empathic portraits should powerfully pique memories in Gup's readers about their own family's experience of the economic trauma of the 1930s."
"Review" by , "Gup's narrative style combined with first-person accounts and profiles of the recipient families put a human face on this part of history and make this an inspiring and informative read."
"Synopsis" by ,
An inspiring account of America at its worst-and Americans at their best-woven from the stories of Depression- era families who were helped by gifts from the author's generous and secretive grandfather.

Shortly before Christmas 1933 in Depression-scarred Canton, Ohio, a small newspaper ad offered $10, no strings attached, to 75 families in distress. Interested readers were asked to submit 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 assist his fellow Cantonians as they prepared for the cruelest Christmas most of them would ever witness.

Moved by the tales of suffering and expressions of hope contained in the letters, which he discovered in a suitcase 75 years later, Ted Gup initially set out to unveil the lives behind them, searching for records and relatives all over the country who could help him flesh out the family sagas hinted at in those letters. From these sources, Gup has re-created the impact that Mr B. Virdot's gift had on each family. Many people yearned for bread, coal, or other necessities, but many others received money from B. Virdot for more fanciful items-a toy horse, say, or a set of encyclopedias. As Gup's investigations revealed, all these things had the power to turn people's lives around- even to save them.

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 unearths deeply buried details about Sam's life-from his impoverished, abusive upbringing to felonious efforts to hide his immigrant origins from U.S. officials-that help explain why he felt such a strong affinity to strangers in need. Drawing on his unique find and his award-winning reportorial gifts, Ted Gup solves a singular family mystery even while he pulls away the veil of eight decades that separate us from the hardships that united America during the Depression. In A Secret Gift, he weaves these revelations seamlessly into a tapestry of Depression-era America, which will fascinate and inspire in equal measure.

Watch a Video

"Synopsis" by ,

andquot;A wonderful reminder that economic hardship can bring suffering but can also foster compassion and community.andquot; -The Boston Globe

In hard economic times like these, readers will find bestselling author Ted Gup's unique book uplifting as well as captivating. Inside a suitcase kept in his mother's attic, Gup discovered letters written to his grandfather in response to an ad placed in a Canton, Ohio, newspaper in 1933 that offered cash to seventy-five families facing a devastating Christmas. The author travels coast to coast to unveil the lives behind the letters, describing a range of hardships and recreating in his research the hopes and suffering of Depression-era Americans, even as he uncovers the secret life led by the grandfather he thought he knew.

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