The historiography of the New Deal is a mess, according to Steven Attewell. Right-wing “New Deal denialist histories” argue that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s domestic policy program slowed or prevented an economic recovery that, without intervention, would have sped to its conclusion more swiftly. Rather than explain why such interpretations are nonsense, “academic historians have been loath to engage with these narratives,” Attewell notes, because we have not wanted to give attention to slanted and obviously dishonest views of the past (17). But rather than cause New Deal denialism to wither without the sunlight of scholarly critique, our inattention has permitted it to flourish like unchecked kudzu. Worse: historians have actively if inadvertently abetted the growth of denialist interpretation. As Attewell explains, “historians have relied on a set of inaccurate statistics on unemployment rates in the 1930s that suggest the New Deal was less successful in fighting mass unemployment than it...
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Book Review| December 01 2019
People Must Live by Work: Direct Job Creation in America, from FDR to Reagan, by Steven Attewell
People Must Live by Work: Direct Job Creation in America, from FDR to Reagan, Attewell, Steven,
University of Pennsylvania Press,
323pp., $75.00 (cloth)
Labor (2019) 16 (4): 91–92.
Eric Rauchway; People Must Live by Work: Direct Job Creation in America, from FDR to Reagan, by Steven Attewell. Labor 1 December 2019; 16 (4): 91–92. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-7790270
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