Three Histories of the Great Depression

Examines works by Howard Zinn, Paul Johnson, and the team of George Brown Tindall and David Emory Shi to show how different historians present the Great Depression.

One of the key historical events of the 20th century was known as the Great Depression. This paper discusses the views of several historians – Howard Zinn, Paul Johnson, and George Brown Tindall/David Emory Shi. All agree on the general dates of the event, on its beginning in 1929 with the Stock Market crash and on the fact that the Roosevelt Administration, which was elected to do something about the economy, used the New Deal as a way of addressing this issue. All produced general histories of the United States for the average reader rather than the specialist, and all have found an audience for their books. The paper shows, however, that the three works do show differences in how they view these events and in how they write about them. These differences are discussed in the paper.

Works Reviewed
Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States
George Brown Tindell and David Emory Shi’s `America: A Narrative History`.
Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People
Tindall and Shi also give more attention to the efforts Hoover made to bring about a recovery, and to the fact that his failure led to the end of his administration and the election of Roosevelt as a way of changing the leadership and so addressing the problem with a new team. They also provide more detail on the way Congress reacted. Their book is more detailed than Zinn’s, for he seeks to explain broader historical trends, while Tindall and Shi give their attention to specific events in a more detailed fashion.