The Age of the Great Depression, by Dixon Wecter; Depression Decade, by Broadus Mitchell
Dixon Wecter, one of our ablest social historians, has written, in The Age of the Great Depression, a discursive social history of the United States from 1929 to 1941. Although the publishers seem reluctant to admit it, the book is plainly meant to complete or continue the “History of American Life” series which Macmillan has been publishing since the middle 20′S.
This series of books was conceived at a time when historians were intrigued with the idea of going beyond the conventional array of economic, political, diplomatic, and military events to tell what they considered to be the larger story of American life—intellectual and cultural trends, education, religion, amusements, and the mechanical paraphernalia of living. Capable historians were procured to write the series, but the books were not very successful. For the most part they failed to come into focus; they seemed to be about everything in general and nothing in particular; they were full of interesting facts, but almost devoid of interesting insights. They frequently read like catalogues, and this was particularly and lamentably true of their treatment of books and ideas. They seemed also to have been designed as supplementary reading for college courses in history, and accordingly written with the requisite gentility and at the not very flattering level of intellectual sophistication on which professors generally think the undergraduate mind should be approached.
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