October 10, 2009
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Nothing To Fear

by Adam Cohen

A lively, engaging, and readable account of the legendary outset of Roosevelt’s New Deal. On arriving in office, Roosevelt knew that action had to be taken at once, but what action to take remained very much in question. Cohen argues that the entire shape of the New Deal emerged from the personalities and plans of a handful of aides and cabinet members, especially Ray Moley, Frances Perkins, Henry Wallace, and a late recruit who Roosevelt scarcely knew named Harry Hopkins. Meanwhile, Republicans sneered at each administration proposal, denouncing bank regulation as communist and child labor regulation as fascist, while pundits worried about partisan divisions and the Democratic majority’s ability to pass legislation despite Republican opposition. Through it all, Roosevelt’s ability to project confidence and determination steadied markets, reassured banks, and gave unemployed and desperate workers hope that, eventually, happy days would be here again.