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A Great Leap Forward: 1930s Depression and U.S. Economic Growth Paperback – Jul 2 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (Aug. 28 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300188161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300188165
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #924,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


“[O]ne of the best economics books of the last ten years… one of the best books on the Depression era… one of the must-reads of the year.”—Tyler Cowan, Marginal Revolution

(Tyler Cowan Marginal Revolution)

"An extraordinary new book . . ."—James Surowiecki, The New Yorker
(James Surowiecki The New Yorker)

“Fundamentally rewrite[s] the economic history of the US….Highly recommended.”—Choice

“Alex Field in this pathbreaking book overturns one myth after another about American economic history.  His most important contribution is to unleash the saga of American economic growth from the simplistic story that investment automatically begets growth.  He contrasts the 1920s, with high investment that ended in the collapse of a stock market bubble, with the 1930s when investment had collapsed and yet innovations continued and the world was changed forever.  The 1930s ended with foundations of the standard of living lacking 10 years earlier, including streamlined autos with automatic transmissions, a vastly expanded highway network including the Bay Area bridges and the Hoover dam, diesel railroad locomotives replacing steam, and the transcendant revolution in the motion picture industry created by the 1939 productions of "Gone With the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz."  This book will change forever standard views of which decade's growth was most dynamic, and why.”—Robert J. Gordon, Northwestern University

(Robert J. Gordon 2010-11-23)

"[O]ne of the most important technical economics books of this decade."—David Henderson,  Policy Review
(David Henderson Policy Review)

. . . adds new evidence for the productive role of public spending. It also changes our view of what happened in the American economy during the 1930s, when military investment was not a driving force.”—Fred Block, American Prospect (Fred Block American Prospect)

“Field poses and attempts to answer interesting questions using straightforward number-crunching and reasoning, rather than resorting to obscure mathematics or advanced statistics. The result is a book that represents the best of what economics can be.”—Arnold Kling, The American
(Arnold Kling The American)

“Alex Field begins his provocative new book with the proposition that beneath the misery of the Great Depression, the 1930s were in fact “the most technologically progressive decade of the century.”  This counterintuitive finding launches Field on a vigorous new interpretation of U.S. economic history in the twentieth century.  His narrative is firmly rooted in the quantitative record, yet always accessible and full of surprises.  Everyone concerned about the American economy (past and present) should read this book.”—Gavin Wright, Stanford University

(Gavin Wright 2010-12-17)

“Eight decades later, the debacle of the Great Depression still fascinates many Americans – and for good reason.  Alexander Field’s new book is a major contribution to our understanding of what went wrong and what the country did to fix it.  His finding that the technology of American industry advanced unusually rapidly under the New Deal is an especially valuable corrective to a variety of views held by economists and the general public alike.”—Benjamin M. Friedman, Harvard University
(Benjamin Friedman 2010-10-10)

“Field has written a fine, well-argued book on the history of productivity in the United States, with a focus on the Great Depression. Was the Depression caused by an adverse productivity shock? Or was rapid productivity in the 1930s caused by the Depression? Everyone interested in the Depression or in technology shocks as important short-run macroeconomic events should read this book.”—Peter Temin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(Peter Temin 2010-11-23)

About the Author

Alexander J. Field is the Michel and Mary Orradre Professor of Economics, Santa Clara University, and executive director of the Economic History Association.

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Most helpful customer reviews on 4.4 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
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5.0 out of 5 starsA very important work, although not written for lay readers
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4.0 out of 5 starsa bit dry, but quite interesting
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