The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression

Amity Shlaes, Chuck Dixon and Paul Rivoche. Harper Perennial, $19.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-196764-1
Shlaes’s histories are beloved among Congressional budget hawks for suggesting that Calvin Coolidge was the last great thrifty president and that F.D.R. prolonged the Great Depression by ramping up federal spending. This adaptation of Schlaes’s history of the Depression by Dixon (Batman) and Rivoche (Mister X) represents her political views faithfully. Its hero and narrator is the practically forgotten Wendell Willkie, Roosevelt’s opponent in the critical election of 1940, but all the major social and political players of the time, from Andrew Mellon, Ayn Rand, and Father Divine to the Schechter brothers (kosher poultry kings who won a Supreme Court case against the constraining practices of F.D.R.’s National Recovery Administration), make appearances. The research-heavy narrative sometimes reads like an economics master class: competing government policies and business practices are discussed at length. The real hero is Rivoche, who manages to dramatize this polemic with stunningly realized b&w art and intuitive storytelling, which does not hesitate to open the tale into two-page spreads when necessary. The Keynes vs. Hayek debate may still be unresolved, but no one will argue that this is a beautiful use of comics to boil down a complex, abstract narrative. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/09/2014
Release date: 05/01/2014
Genre: Comics
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