Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945

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Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945

By David M. Kennedy
Oxford University Press, 1999
936 pp. $39.95
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Kennedy's challenge was to construct a book that had breadth and depth, fully comprehended political, military, economic, and social developments, and integrated a wealth of specialized scholarship. He also sought to fit all these pieces into a driving narrative that would pull a reader along. In Freedom from Fear, he has pulled off this remarkable feat. Hoover, the Depression, Roosevelt, the New Deal, and the transformation of American industry and society all seem fresh and fascinating again. Kennedy occasionally seems off-target in appraising American grand strategy in World War II; having not attempted an international history, he may have understated the American case in the arguments about the Second Front and the relative contributions to victory. These and other issues anyone can quibble with, but many readers should enjoy the nonpartisan, informed, and thoughtful judgments of a historian working at the height of his craft, conveying the great challenges and choices of "the greatest generation" to the present one.

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