September 11th, 2008


All Opinions Are Contained on LiveJournal: the Dirty Thirties edition

So my childhood fascination with the Great Depression seems to have reared its head again (and is making me want to write SF -- not historical SF set in the 1930s, oddly enough, and not pulpy '30s-esque SF -- brains are weird). And what I'm wondering is: do any of you have recommendations for works about FDR and his presidency? My library has seventy-five titles listed just about Roosevelt, not even going into related topics. I can just grab an end and pull, see what historians' names might come drifting back to me from when I was a kid. But if there are any books or authors you'd particularly recommend, I'd appreciate hearing which.

Reading American history is so weird. When you get interested in a question like, "Why was there such a surge of interest in Thomas Aquinas and social justice among Austrian Catholics in the 1890s?" -- which is the other thing sparked by yesterday's reading -- the question is whether you can conveniently find that information at all, not whether you can skim through forty volumes of dumbed-down nonsense to get there. I mean, for Thermionic Night and Copper Mountain, the sifting of research materials went like this: Is it about Finland? Is it in English? Sold. And I was enough older when I started obsessing about the settlement of Iceland that I really did remember the names of historians when I wanted to go back to it. When you're 13, 14, 15, you have some misty notion of historiography. At 9, not so much. (I know these ages need adjusting upwards for people who were not raised by my mother. But I was.) The Great Depression project was how I learned about comparing sources and the advantages and disadvantages of perspectives at the time vs. many years after the fact -- which means that I wasn't really there yet when I was doing it. Which means that it'll take awhile for me to dredge up who was good and who was crap.

Well. Nothing ever wasted. And no tasty buried bone left forever, apparently.