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Publisher's Summary

When President Roosevelt took the oath of office in March 1933, he was facing a devastated nation. Four years into the Great Depression, a staggering 13 million American workers were jobless, and many millions more of their family members were equally in need. Desperation ruled the land.What people wanted were jobs, not handouts - the pride of earning a paycheck. And in 1935, after a variety of temporary relief measures, a permanent nationwide jobs program was created. This was the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and it would forever change the physical landscape and the social policies of the United States.The WPA lasted for eight years, spent $11 billion, employed 8.5 million men and women, and gave the country not only a renewed spirit but a fresh face. Under its colorful head, Harry Hopkins, the agency's remarkable accomplishment was to combine the urgency of putting people back to work with its vision of physically rebuilding America. Its workers laid roads and erected dams, bridges, tunnels, and airports. They stocked rivers, made toys, sewed clothes, and served millions of hot school lunches. When disasters struck, they were there by the thousands to rescue the stranded. And all across the country the WPA's arts programs performed concerts, staged plays, painted murals, delighted children with circuses, and created invaluable guidebooks. Even today, more than 60 years after the WPA ceased to exist, there is almost no area in America that does not bear some visible mark of its presence.Politically controversial, the WPA was staffed by passionate believers and hated by conservatives; its critics called its projects make-work, and wags said WPA stood for "We Piddle Around". The contrary was true. We have only to look about us today to discover its lasting presence.
©2008 Nick Taylor; (P)2008 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"Eloquent and balanced....A splendid appreciation of the WPA." (Publishers Weekly)
"Vividly rendered - a near-definitive account of one of the most massive government interventions into domestic affairs in American history." (Kirkus)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Helen on 07-01-08

The true spirit of America.

Not having grown up in the depression I only knew what I briefly read about this period of Amercian history. I selected this book because I am genealogy geek, and discovered a family member who worked for the WPA, and named Harry Hopkins as his boss. So I goggled info on WPA, not knowing a thing about it. This book helped me live through the lives of several people during 1930 to 1943, and it helped me truly understand why FDR was such a great President. This book shows the groundwork for social reform from job projects to social security to arts programs. I was inspired by the need to build people up by giving them something to do, and for many it was also something they loved. Roosevelt's New DEAL policies had truly changed American politics and programs. I could not help but be reminded of the state of affairs we are in today and the need for a change. High praise to the author and the narrator. Incredible amount of research too!

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Roderick on 07-27-08

An Excellent book whose timing is important

My main take away from this book is how the unemployed during the depression wanted to work. How FDR thought just giving money was taking something away from peoples pride and that it would cause long term bad effects. Wow was he correct on that. Wish politicians would read up on him to understand that to give money is not the idea, give a job and build the persons character and pride.

Excellent book with a lot of history that isnt taught. Great narrator also.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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