One Third of a Nation : Lorena Hickok Reports on the Great Depression
Vividly and compassionately portrays the same heartrending devastation, sorrow, and quiet heroism of the Depression that Steinbeck depicted in Grapes of Wrath and that Woody Guthrie evoked in his songs of the common people.
- Paperback | 440 pages
- 157.48 x 226.06 x 25.4mm | 498.95g
- 01 Oct 2000
- University of Illinois Press
- Baltimore, United States
- Revised ed.
Back cover copy
Between 1933 and 1935, Lorena Hickok traveled across thirty-two states as a "confidential investigator" for Harry Hopkins, head of FDR's Federal Emergency Relief Administration. Her assignment was to gather information about the day-to-day toll the depression was exacting on individual citizens. One Third of a Nation is her record, underscored by the eloquent photographs of Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and others, of the shocking plight of millions of unemployed and dispossessed Americans.
"Some of the best reports ever written on the state of America's underprivileged." -- Sylvia Jukes Morris, Washington Post Book World "Hickok touches on every facet of the relationship between private misfortune and public relief efforts... The letters are written in a lively conversational style, full of anecdotes, wry asides, wicked characterizations of local politicians, and moving vignettes of enterprising and dedicated relief workers." -- Ann Banks, New York Times "Unlike the convoluted government documents one is accustomed to, Hickok's reports are really letters: persuasive, immediate, fiery, and memorable. The fear and hopelessness of the times are still palpable. The people are still vivid. What Hickok gave to her letters was passion." -- Rhoda Lehrman, New Republic "Hickok's lively writings, despite her biases, can serve as an informative and invaluable history of the early New Deal... Especially timely given current debates about the purpose and function of federally directed public welfare programs and services." -- John M. Herrick, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare "[Hickok's] letters paint a graphic picture of life in America during that period of the early New Deal when relief efforts were sputtering. She describes a desperate, bewildered America. Hickok's words provide an excellent understanding of how Americans felt about themselves and their country during this languid socioeconomic period... Her observations still provide uncommon perspicacity." -- Dennis Shockley, The Chronicles of Oklahoma ADVANCE PRAISE "Lorena Hickok was a singularly gifted witness to the calamity of the Great Depression. From one end of the country to the other, she stared long and hard into the human face of America's greatest economic failure and social catastrophe. A seasoned reporter, she recorded her impressions in spare, muscular prose that still packs a punch. Eleanor Roosevelt told Hickok that her writing would come to be regarded in future years as 'the best history of the Depression.' Readers of this memorable volume will surely agree." -- David M. Kennedy, author of Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War