cover image Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945

Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945

David M. Kennedy, Author, C. Vann Woodward, Introduction by Oxford University Press $45 (990p) ISBN 978-0-19-503834-7

Rarely does a work of historical synthesis combine such trenchant analysis and elegant writing as does Kennedy's spectacular contribution to the Oxford History of the United States. A Stanford history professor and winner of the Bancroft Prize (for Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger), Kennedy uses a wide canvas to depict all aspects of the American political, social and economic experience from 1929 to 1945. Throughout, he takes care to detail parts of the American story often neglected by more casual histories. For example, he introduces readers to the ""old poor,"" the third of the country that had not prospered during the '20s and were among the most ravaged by the '30s. He also provides a stunningly original reinterpretation of the competing forces and interests that combined to shape the New Deal under FDR's direction. And he gives deliberate and enlightening attention to the ""Great Debate"" between isolationists and internationalists in the '30s. The book's final 400 pages admirably demonstrate exactly how the U.S. emerged victorious in WWII: not just through military prowess, but also through capably managed homefront economics and propaganda. Because of its scope, its insight and its purring narrative engine, Kennedy's book will stand for years to come as the definitive history of the most important decades of the American century. 48 halftones; 10 linecuts. 50,000 first printing; first serial to the Atlantic Monthly; History Book Club main selection; author tour. (May) FYI: Previous volumes in the Oxford History of the United States are Robert Middlekauff's The Glorious Cause, James M. McPherson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom and James T. Patterson's Bancroft Prize-winning Grand Expectations.