The Great Crash of 1929 profoundly disrupted the United States' confident march toward becoming the world's superpower. The breakneck growth of 1920s America--with its boom in automobiles, electricity, credit lines, radio, and movies--certainly presaged a serious recession by the decade's end, but not a depression. The totality of the collapse shocked the nation, and its duration scarred generations to come. In this lucid and fast-paced account of the cataclysm, award-winning writer Charles R. Morris pulls together the intricate threads of policy, ideology, international hatreds, and sheer individual cantankerousness that finally pushed the world economy over the brink and into a depression. While Morris anchors his narrative in the United States, he also fully investigates the poisonous political atmosphere of postwar Europe to reveal how treacherous the environment of the global economy was. It took heroic financial mismanagement, a glut-induced global collapse in agricultural prices, and a self-inflicted crash in world trade to cause the Great Depression. Deeply researched and vividly told, A Rabble of Dead Money anatomizes history's greatest economic catastrophe--while noting the uncanny echoes for the present.
In this sprightly if strangely titled volume, Morris (Comeback: America s New Economic Boom) recounts a major 20th-century crisis. Morris characterizes himself as a historian with a professional background in finance, and he is at his best when writing about economic matters, alerting readers to the latest, most authoritative thinking about the causes and realities of the Great Depression. He sets his main story s stage with a long introduction on the 1920s, which takes up a third of the book, and eventually hits his stride in the midst of the Depression. The usual characters Herbert Hoover and F.D.R. especially make their necessary appearances, but part of the book s distinctiveness lies in Morris s inclusion of little-known people, not all of them American, such as Chicago businessman Samuel Insull and the Swedish Match King Ivar Kreuger. Another of its strengths is that Morris goes beyond American shores to cover the Depression s roots in, and effects on, the rest of the world. There s not much new here, but what Morris delivers is dependably accurate, well paced, and easy to read. This is an ideal book for readers seeking an introduction to the Depression years, though Eric F. Goldman s classic Rendezvous with Destiny remains essential reading.