Monday, April 23, 2012

A People's Read-a-long: Week 15


Welcome to Week 15 of A People's Read-a-long! We're reading a chapter a week, and I'm finding the pace deligtful. Note: the hosts have switched to posting every other week instead of every week, but I'm bucking the trend and posting every week. This week is a week everyone is posting. (Missed the earlier posts? Check them all out here.)

My thoughts: Chapter 15, "Self-Help in Hard Times," continues the theme of economic inequality through the Great Depression. In many ways, this chapter feels the culmination of much of this book.

One of the things I enjoyed most in this chapter were the excerpts from writers at the time who were trying to draw attention to the issues. Zinn included excerpts from F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Langston Hughes and Sinclair Lewis.

There were far more moments of astonishment at the downright ignorance, or intentional lies, coming from the leaders:
"Herbert Hoover had said, not long before the crash: 'We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land.' Henry Ford, in March 1931, said the crisis was here because 'the average man won't really do a day's work unless he is caught and cannot get out of it. There is plenty of work to do if people would do it.' A few weeks later he laid of 75,000 workers."
 Zinn covers the Great Depression, the New Deal and leads up to the beginning of World War II. I'm finding as I know the history of this period better that there are fewer surprising things. Having read up to this part, however, does provide added context to this period.

Intrigued? Read along! Buy A People's History of the United States from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (the Kindle version.) You don't have to post each week.

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6 comments:

  1. This is a chapter that I would like to go back and read, because I am fascinated by the Great Depression. So much of what happened back then is very relevant today. It's also a very interesting time period to read about.

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    1. It is a fascinating time period. An old episode of American Experience about the time aired last night, and I'm looking forward to watching it.

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  2. I was a flake this week...I'm still on Chapter 14.

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    1. That's okay--it boosts my self-esteem I managed to do it if you didn't. It wasn't my favorite chapter, but reading one a week has become necessary to stay on track!

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  3. I'm still not at this chapter yet but it sounds like one that will "go down easy" (as far as the writing … the content will be more of the same it sounds.)

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    1. Jenners--it struck me as more of the same. I'm curious to see how the rest of the 20th century pans out. It was nice to have a chapter without war, but, of course, war is coming right back!

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!