This book has been dedicated to the proposition that Americans who lived in difficult times during the Great Depression deserve to be remembered as more than hapless victims. Whatever the explanation—whether the heavy impress of documentary photography or the power of romantic literature and cinema of that period, or more recently from oral history interviews, though distantly remembered and often random anecdotes in collections specifically designed to underscore the miseries and deprivations of Depression-era Americans—we have not paid them the attention they deserve. We have overlooked their diverse strengths, poise, creative adaptability, and, above all, their triumphant retention of positive values and commitments despite the beleaguering and enervating powers of the Depression. Although the United States, of all the Western democracies, experienced the most severe and protracted effects of worldwide depression in the late 1920s and 1930s with unemployment rates that exceeded those in Europe and were of longer duration, the American public remained remarkably steadfast and confident of America's institutions and future while European countries were often convulsed with revolution or torn apart by political and social factionalism. To some influential Europeans the solution appeared to be authoritarian regimes with their enforced calm, but as the punch line in the old political gag declared, the best America could come up with in these momentous times was Huey Long. Not only was America free from effective threats by extremist leaders, the society, considering the times, was surprisingly tranquil; the Communist Party declined in America and socialists virtually disappeared from the scene, unions made advances yet were seriously circumscribed if they were considered radical or communist influenced. Indeed, after 1935, even homicides declined—their number was substantially
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Publication information: Book title: And a Time for Hope:Americans in the Great Depression. Contributors: James R. McGovern - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2000. Page number: Not available.
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