Lightest Blues: Humor From the Great Depression

In This Review

Lightest Blues: Humor From the Great Depression

By Jane Van Nimmen, edited by Clive Giboire
Imago, 1984

An anthology of "the best" from the magazine Americana, which was published briefly-17 issues in 1932-1933-under the editorship of Alexander King, Jr. and George Grosz. Contributors included Al Hirschfeld, Mary Petty, S.J. Perelman and E.E. Cummings. Some of the material seems almost shockingly contemporary. The horrors of unemployment, of soup kitchens and homelessness are powerfully depicted. The expected targets-politicians, businessmen, the complacent rich-are targets still. One surprise: the violent attacks on Stalin (Roosevelt had just recognized the Soviet government) long before the purges, the pact with Hitler, and the other milestones that alienated American liberal opinion. Hitler, who had just come to power, is treated as a mild joke. In all, this is a graphic history lesson with many relevant links to today.

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