There has never been a phenomenon in American life to equal the invasion of Washington by the young New Dealers—hundreds of men and women still in their twenties and thirties, brilliant and dedicated, trained in the law, economics, public administration, technology, pouring into public life to do nothing less than restructure American society. They proposed new programs, drafted legislation, staffed the new agencies. They were active in the Administration, the Congress, the courts, the news media. They fanned out all over America to discover the facts, plan ways of easing the pain of their foundering country, and report on the results. Many of them went on to be rich, famous, and powerful, but their early experience in Washington was perhaps the most inspiriting of their lives.
Katie Louchheim was among those who arrived in Washington in the 1930s, and being a keen writer as well as the wife of a member of the SEC, she had a front-row seat for the spectacle of social progress. Now, a half-century later, she has gathered reminiscences from her old friends and colleagues, interviewed others, and woven them together into a lively, informal word-picture of that exciting time. Among the many insiders who recount their views are Alger Hiss, Robert C. Weaver, Paul A. Freund, James H. Rowe, Wilbur J. Cohen, Abe Fortas, David Riesman, and Joseph L. Rauh. This book, a singular and uplifting primary document of an extraordinary period, is destined to appeal across a wide spectrum of readers of American history.
A stunning mix of anecdote and sharp personal glimpses…a summing-up, proud and sometimes chastened, of old battles and the transforming enthusiasm of an extraordinary time. The book is a treasury of anecdotes of great men seen by their young helpers… Beyond the anecdotes and the personalities, there are the dynamics of the time, its panics, enthusiasm, inspirations and its fumblings.
These sparkling firsthand accounts from the young members of the New Deal team—Alger Hiss, Robert C. Weaver, Paul A. Freund, James H. Rowe, Wilbur J. Cohen, Abe Fortas, David Riesman, Joseph L. Rauh, and 38 others—form a vivid and unusual chronicle of that ‘yeasty, exciting time.’ How it takes you back to the days when government was trying to govern! More than mere reminiscences, this is a newly informative, moving, and in view of present-day contrasts, a heart-rending book.
- 416 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
- Foreword by Frank Freidel
- Notes by Jonathan Dembo
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