|Author(s):||Daynes, Byron D.|
Pederson, William D.
Riccards, Michael P.
|Reviewer(s):||Namorato, Michael V.|
Published by EH.NET (April 2000)
Byron W. Daynes, William D. Pederson and Michael P. Riccards, editors, The
New Deal and Public Policy. New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1998. 293 pp.
$49.95 (cloth), ISBN 0-312-17540-X.
Reviewed for EH.NET by Michael V. Namorato, Department of History,
University of Mississippi.
This volume grew out of the American Studies program at Louisiana State
University-Shreveport and its sponsorship of a presidential conference series
originally be ginning in 1983. In 1992, LSU-Shreveport sponsored a conference
on Abraham Lincoln which, in turn, led to a summer institute for teachers.
Three years later, in 1995, the university sponsored “Franklin D.
Roosevelt after Fifty Years.”
According to the editors, this 1995 conference had nearly one hundred scholar
participants and was “the largest ever held” on FDR, even winning awards from
the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (which apparently assisted in
funding it) and the Olympic Games Cultural Olympiad. The published result is
this volume on public policy.
The edited book is divided into four parts: agriculture; environment;
housing, welfare, and economics; and industry regulation. A brief
historiographical article concludes the work along with a
select bibliography and list of contributors. The authors are individuals who
have master’s degrees, or are doctoral students, or are academics in
disciplines such as political science, or are university administrators.
Evaluating this book is not an easy
task. In general, the work is disappointing. There are no notable New Deal
historians who contributed any articles, except for Roger Biles who has done
work on the New Deal on the local and regional level. In the articles
themselves, a good number of the
authors rely heavily on outdated secondary source materials. The articles offer
little or no originality whether it be in the problems studied, the approaches
used, or the conclusions drawn. And, at least one of the articles is simply a
jargon-filled social science tract of little value.
Fortunately, there are a few bright spots. June Hopkins, granddaughter of Harry
Hopkins, presents a substantive (although biased) study on Harry Hopkins’
attitude towards relief. Roger Biles offers a good piece on public housing,
demonstrating FDR’s dislike for such governmental interference.
Jim Codling writes a solid paper on the economic impact of Roosevelt’s programs
in Oktibbeha county, Mississippi and on Mississippi State University. And,
finally, Erik Carlson offers a good, yet tedious to read,
piece on the Civil Aeronautics Authority, showing how the federal government’s
role in this blossoming industry had particularly significant long-term
Nevertheless, other than these four articles, The New Deal and Public
Policy has little to offer. New Deal scholars or anyone interested in
Franklin D. Roosevelt and his era will not find anything in this work that adds
significantly to what is already known about this presidential era.
Michael V. Namorato is a
Professor of History at the University of Mississippi. He has published a
biography of Rexford Tugwell, edited the Tugwell diary, and edited a volume on
the New Deal and the South. He is also currently the editor of Essays in
Economic and Business History, the journal of the Economic and Business
|Subject(s):||Economic Planning and Policy|
|Geographic Area(s):||North America|
|Time Period(s):||20th Century: Pre WWII|