Winter War: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the First Clash Over the New Deal

Eric Rauchway. Basic, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-465-09458-5
Using a formal but accessible style, Rauchway (The Money Makers) explores the months between Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s electoral victory over President Herbert Hoover and his inauguration in this case study of a transition of power that proves both edifying and engaging. Rauchway asserts that from the November 1932 election to FDR’s inauguration at the beginning of March 1933, Hoover was “looking to the long term, not the current crisis” in the belief “that the future of the country depended on his return to power.” Rauchway depicts an embittered Hoover seeking to score political points to make his case for future elections instead of seeking meaningful collaborations with FDR to take on the perilous issues that beset the nation. Rauchway succeeds in detailing the major issues that Roosevelt grappled with, devoting chapters to England and France’s default on the repayment of international loans from WWI, the farm crisis, civil rights for African-Americans, Hitler’s rise to power, and the pandemic of bank runs and closures. Hoover mostly disappears during the book’s middle portions, ceding the narrative focus to FDR, which undermines the book’s central tension. But the book showcases strong scholarship, including deep engagement with archival materials, that a general audience can appreciate. This is an informative and readable history. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2018
Release date: 11/13/2018
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