Suggested Reading List
Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Author: H.W. Brands
Description: Drawing on archival material, public speeches, correspondence and accounts by those closest to Roosevelt early in his career and during his presidency, H. W. Brands shows how Roosevelt transformed American government during the Depression with his New Deal legislation, and carefully managed the country's prelude to war. Brands shows how Roosevelt's friendship and regard for Winston Churchill helped to forge one of the greatest alliances in history, as Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin maneuvered to defeat Germany and prepare for post-war Europe.
Author: Jean Edward Smith
Description: This is a portrait painted in broad strokes and fine details. We see how Roosevelts restless energy, fierce intellect, personal magnetism, and ability to project effortless grace permitted him to master countless challenges throughout his life. Smith recounts FDRs battles with polio and physical disability, and how these experiences helped forge the resolve that FDR used to surmount the economic turmoil of the Great Depression and the wartime threat of totalitarianism. Here also is FDRs private life depicted with unprecedented candor and nuance, with close attention paid to the four women who molded his personality and helped to inform his worldview: His mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, formidable yet ever supportive and tender; his wife, Eleanor, whose counsel and affection were instrumental to FDRs public and individual achievements; Lucy Mercer, the great romantic love of FDRs life; and Missy LeHand, FDRs longtime secretary, companion, and confidante, whose adoration of her boss was practically limitless. Smith also tackles head-on and in-depth the numerous failures and miscues of Roosevelts public career, including his disastrous attempt to reconstruct the Judiciary; the shameful internment of Japanese-Americans; and Roosevelts occasionally self-defeating Executive overreach. Additionally, Smith offers a sensitive and balanced assessment of Roosevelts response to the Holocaust, noting its breakthroughs and shortcomings.
Glamour in a Golden Age: Movie Stars of the 1930s
Author: Adrienne A. McLean
Description: Shirley Temple, Clark Gable, Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer, Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo, William Powell and Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow, and Gary Cooper-Glamour in a Golden Age presents original essays from eminent film scholars that analyze movie stars of the 1930s against the background of contemporary American cultural history. Stardom is approached as an effect of, and influence on, the particular historical and industrial contexts that enabled these actors and actresses to be discovered, featured in films, publicized, and to become recognized and admired-sometimes even notorious-parts of the cultural landscape. Using archival and popular material, including fan and mass market magazines, other promotional and publicity material, and of course films themselves, contributors also discuss other artists who were incredibly popular at the time, among them Ann Harding, Ruth Chatterton, Nancy Carroll, Kay Francis, and Constance Bennett.
The Runaway Bride: Hollywood Romantic Comedies of the 1930s
Author: Elizabeth Kendall
Description: In the 1934 classic It Happened One Night, heiress Claudette Colbert races away from the altar and a conventional marriage and throws herself into a wisecracking rough-and-tumble affair with Clark Gable. The new brand of movies following in the wake of Capra's kooky masterpiece-and the women starring in them-are the focus of Kendall's The Runaway Bride, a look at the films that mirrored the climate of the Great Depression while at the same time helping Americans get through it. Kendall details the collaborations between the romantic comedy directors and the female stars, showing how such films as Alice Adams (with Katherine Hepburn), Swing Time (where Ginger Rogers enjoys "A Fine Romance" with Fred Astaire), The Awful Truth (with Irene Dunne), and The Lady Eve (wherein Barbara Stanwyck's shapely leg repeatedly trips nave millionaire Henry Fonda) came to be, and what they said about the 1930s. Written with erudition and enthusiasm, The Runaway Bride is a trip through some of Hollywood's most memorable moments, and a key to the national issues of an era as revealed in its films.
The American People in the Great Depression
Author: David M. Kennedy
Description: Kennedy vividly demonstrates that the economic crisis of the 1930s was more than a reaction to the excesses of the 1920s. For more than a century before the Crash, America's unbridled industrial revolution had gyrated through repeated boom and bust cycles, consuming capital and inflicting misery on city and countryside alike. Nor was the alleged prosperity of the 1920s as uniformly shared as legend portrays. Countless Americans eked out threadbare lives on the margins of national life. Roosevelt's New Deal wrenched opportunity from the trauma of the 1930s and created a lasting legacy of economic and social reform, but it was afflicted with shortcomings and contradictions as well. With an even hand Kennedy details the New Deal's problems and defeats, as well as its achievements. He also sheds fresh light on its incandescent but enigmatic author, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Marshalling unforgettable narratives that feature prominent leaders as well as lesser-known citizens, The American People in the Great Depression tells the story of a resilient nation finding courage in an unrelenting storm.
The Swing Era: The Development of Jazz, 1930-1945
Author: Gunther Schuller
Description: The Swing Era focuses on that extraordinary period in American musical history--1933 to 1945--when jazz was synonymous with America's popular music, its social dances and musical entertainment. The book's thorough scholarship, critical perceptions, and great love and respect for jazz puts this well-remembered era of American music into new and revealing perspective. It examines how the arrangements of Fletcher Henderson and Eddie Sauter--whom Schuller equates with Richard Strauss as "a master of harmonic modulation"--contributed to Benny Goodman's finest work...how Duke Ellington used the highly individualistic trombone trio of Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton, Juan Tizol, and Lawrence Brown to enrich his elegant compositions...how Billie Holiday developed her horn-like instrumental approach to singing...and how the seminal compositions and arrangements of the long-forgotten John Nesbitt helped shape Swing Era styles through their influence on Gene Gifford and the famous Casa Loma Orchestra. Schuller also provides serious reappraisals of such often neglected jazz figures as Cab Calloway, Henry "Red" Allen, Horace Henderson, Pee Wee Russell, and Joe Mooney. Much of the book's focus is on the famous swing bands of the time, which were the essence of the Swing Era. There are the great black bands--Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jimmie Lunceford, Earl Hines, Andy Kirk, and the often superb but little known "territory bands"--and popular white bands like Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsie, Artie Shaw, and Woody Herman, plus the first serious critical assessment of that most famous of Swing Era bandleaders, Glenn Miller. There are incisive portraits of the great musical soloists--such as Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Bunny Berigan, and Jack Teagarden--and such singers as Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, and Helen Forest.