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Hard Times:
An Oral History of the Great Depression

by Studs Terkel

ISBN 067150438X / 9780671504380 / 0-671-50438-X
Publisher Pocket
Language English
Edition Softcover
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Book summary

First published in 1970, this classic of oral history features the voices of men and women who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s. It includes accounts by congressmen C. Wright Patman and Hamilton Fish, as well as failed presidential candidate Alf M. Landon, who recalls what it was like to be governor of Kansas in 1933:

Men with tears in their eyes begged for an appointment that would help save their homes and farms. I couldn't see them all in my office. But I never let one of them leave without my coming out and shakin' hands with 'em. I listened to all their stories, each one of 'em. But it was obvious I couldn't take care of all their terrible needs.
The book includes also the perspectives of ordinary men and women, such as Jim Sheridan, who took part in the 1932 march by World War I veterans to petition for their benefits in Washington, D.C., where they were repelled by army troops led by General Douglas MacArthur. Or Edward Santander, who was a child then: "My first memories come about '31. It was simply a gut issue then: eating or not eating, living or not living." Studs Terkel makes history come alive, drawing out experiences and emotions from his interviewees to the degree few have ever been able to match. [via]