Sunday, July 08, 2007

Vacation, Summer Reading and The Forgotten Man

Well, I got back from my beach vacation in Florida last night after driving for over 13 hours--including a stop through McDonough, Georgia where we found this unusual Chik-fil-A diner. I spent most of the time at the beach sitting under an umbrella with lots of sunscreen catching up on some reading material that I had put aside to take. I started out with some lighter reading with my very first issue of Garden & Gun that I ordered after hearing about the name and reading up on it in The New York Times. The magazine is very asthetically pleasing, with glossy photos and interesting articles such as "Hemingway's Cuba" and "Southern Swell" about women who surf. My only criticism is that there are too many advertisements for my taste but I suppose that is par for the course these days in any magazine.

The book that I spent most of my time reading is the one that I am holding in the picture below, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression by Amity Shlaes, a journalist and economics reporter. If you have an interest in understanding more about the New Deal than what you hear about in the media, Shlaes provides a terrific reinterpretation of the Great Depression. "She shows how both Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt failed to understand the prosperity of the 1920's and heaped massive burdens on the country that more than offset the benefit of the New Deal programs. The real question of the Depression, she argues, in not whether Roosevelt ended it with World War II but why the Depression lasted so long." Did government intervention play a part in making it last longer? Our current entitlement mentality and expectations that the government will provide is based, I think, in large part on the New Deal. The book gave me more perspective and understanding of how this change in mentality took place in our country and how important it is to be aware of the flaws of government intervention into every problem. I think our current desire to embrace universal healthcare is another mistake waiting to happen, but that is a whole other issue. This book is definitely more than just beach reading, it is a detailed and fascinating study of an important part of our nation's history.


Blogger tomcal said...

No red bathing suit?

We are leaving on our yearly vacation to Catalina Island, which is 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, just like the song says.

I will be reading "On Killing" by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. So far it is fascinating. It delves into the psychology of why most soldiers have historically been unable to pull the trigger in battle, even at the cost of their own lives.

3:05 PM, July 08, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


"On Killing" is a very good book; I read it years ago when writing my book on kids who kill and it was extremely helpful.

I hope you enjoy your vacation; with all that has gone on for you lately, it sounds like you need it.

3:27 PM, July 08, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

I found the book interesting in its portrayal of Wilkie. I had previously read "The New Dealer's War" by Fleming. That book had Wilkie as a bit of a dope in his second try for the Republican nomincation in 1944, which is completely different from "The forgotten man." Anyway, both books don't leave FDR in a good light. I wonder, when most of the depression generation has passed on, will historians look on the second Roosevelt kindly?

6:25 PM, July 08, 2007  
Blogger Troy said...

I've had the pleasure of meeting Lt. Col Grossman twice at 2 seminars my department hosted back in Texas a few years ago. He was the keynote speaker and gave a good presentation and is very sincere -- both on stage and at lunch, breaks, etc.

I saw Schlaes on C-SPAN -- her book is in my chute. I'm about to finish Max Boot's Savage Wars of Peace -- excellent and I also finished PD James The Children of Men -- much more thoughtful than the movie (which probably goes without saying in most cases of book movies).

I would love to check out the Chick-Fil-A restaurant -- nothing beats the pickle in the middle of the sandwich though and waffle fries.

9:47 PM, July 08, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

RE: "On Killing":

Grossman starts the edition that I have by exploring the idea of conditioning to kill and correlating that with the extremely realistic and violent video games our kids are playing these days.

About a year ago, our son, age 14 at the time, became - let's say infatuated - with the game "Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas". Over the weeks that he played it my wife and I noticed an enourmous attitudinal shift in him, and we took the game away. Within a week or so, we had our normal kid back.

Just anecdotal, no scientific method or anything; but I still have the game locked in the safe and have no intention of returning it to him...

10:06 PM, July 08, 2007  
Blogger Jungle Jim said...

This sounds like a good book. I shall order a copy.

I have long felt that our understanding of the great depression has been shrouded in leftist mythology. To say that FDR succeeded in ending the depression is like saying LBJ succeeded in ending the Vietnam war.

11:16 PM, July 08, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

I hope you and the family had a nice vacation Dr. H.

I look forward to reading again on the beach. For now, I am too busy preventing toddlers from eating sand and doing headers into the surf.

7:42 AM, July 09, 2007  
Blogger Troy said...

Slam... the headers are kinda funny. I don't need a formal exercise regimen. I take my 7, 4, and 2 year olds to Corona del Mar and I'm running all day.

10:43 AM, July 09, 2007  
Blogger ricpic said...

FDR had a great temperament but mentally he was mediocre. He handed the country over to a bunch of NYU intellectuals and it's been downhill ever since.

11:04 AM, July 09, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

George Will has reviewed the book in his column this morning.

11:33 AM, July 09, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


Thanks, I'll have to check out what he said.

11:50 AM, July 09, 2007  
Blogger Serket said...

It seems like Florida is a common vacation spot for people from the surrounding states: Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. I live in the West and have never been in that area.

12:36 PM, July 09, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


For those of us from Tennessee, it is a one day drive so it makes for a great vacation spot. I have been to beaches in New York and California and have to say, that Florida beaches are much better.

12:51 PM, July 09, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

I can attest to the fact that Florida beaches are better. Pacific beaches are cold and windy, although if you like marine mammals, there are many more out here.

4:23 PM, July 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God, what an incredibly, photo on the cover of that book the Doc is holding!

I wonder where it was taken.

2:34 PM, July 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen is so lovely. And she really understands men.

1:34 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And it's a safe bet you aren't and you don't.

I couldn't help it, I had to!!

6:50 PM, July 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going out right now to buy the book. Hugh Hewitt interviewed the author, and I found it quite interesting.

You mention having caution about government interventions into the economy and such. I can't help but remember what happened when Nixon set up a committee to look into the rising cost of healthcare. This was in the early '70's. When the committee submitted its report, they first said that the biggest, single factor in the great rise of healthcare was the presence of government (Medicare); the second thing they said was that government needed to do more. A classic non sequitor if ever there was one, eh?

11:26 PM, July 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not if you work in government. In this environment, the more you do the less actually happens. To make nothing happen would take too much work. Therefore, once the government starts doing something it rarely ever stops.

This keeps your taxes low and thousands of bits of protoplasm happily employed.

12:54 PM, July 17, 2007  
Blogger Serket said...

I just did a post on my blog about The Forgotten Man.

1:00 AM, June 26, 2008  
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