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“Freedom from Fear” by David M. Kennedy Critical Essay

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Updated: Jun 25th, 2019

Does Franklin Delano Roosevelt have any legacy? It is evident that that the weak nature of the presidential office in America has never changed after several decades.

It may be justified to argue that the state of welfare is not admirable at all because it is largely in a state of chaos. Criticism has been leveled against the Sacrosanct Social Security plan that was once admirable in the face of the American public and the world at large.

Although the above questions may be mind boggling, the “Freedom From Fear” book by David M. Kennedy offers the best opportunity to reflect such terse questions.

The book is indeed an eye opener since significant historical events have been neatly engrossed in a narrative form with special focus on political administration of justice (Kennedy 2003, 86-88).

The author has offered a detailed account of the Roosevelt era in the book. Individuals who have deep passion for political history of the United States may simply describe the entire book as an old-fashioned history that is good enough for highlighting our weak political systems.

There are a number of major military, economic and political queries that Kennedy keenly pursues in the book. The author also inquires some of the major decisions and the architects behind the landmark decisions that have dearly affected the wellbeing of Americans.

From the outset of the book, there is predomination of dead white males. This does not imply that the author is attempting to sideline the interests of vulnerable groups such as minorities, children and women.

The era of the anti-lynching law debates could not have allowed the author to dissect certain segments of the population. It is also interesting to mention that the Japanese internment was a grueling issue during the depression years.

Nonetheless, it may be unfortunate that the author clearly ignored the American pop culture when compiling the key tenets of the book.

Whereas the latter omission may be judged bitterly by critiques of this book, it is interesting to note that the era of the Great Depression has been dramatically discussed by the author to the best satisfaction of the reader. In any case, what could be the purpose of filling the pages of the book with the American pop culture?

What could have been the historical significances of Citizen Kane, Louis Armstrong, Mickey Mouse or Jack Benny in the economic and political wellbeing of Americans?

After the end of the First World War, the American public was mainly interested in forging austerity measures that would positively transform political and economic growth. The author has indeed tackled some of the most intriguing issues of the Great Depression era.

For instance, the emergence of totalitarianism and the New Deal have been critically examined in the book (Kennedy 2003, 107).

The author has also aroused and retained the attention of his readers by documenting a historical account through a number of surprises. For example, Herbert Hoover receives a very kind treatment from the author. It is not common for presidents to be lauded by most elites in society.

The author observes that Herbert was a scholarly and reflective person. He equates him to an astute political philosopher. Kennedy also posits that the former president was a real source of help and inspiration during the First World War.

Nonetheless, the author has negatively described the character traits of Herbert Hoover to the extent that the audience may begin to feel sorry for the former president. At some point in his description of the politically-correct individuals, the author remains too rigid.

Some of the historical weaknesses of political leaders during the Great Depression era are quite callous. He asserts that Roosevelt and the whole of his administration never knew the strategies to adopt during the Great Depression era.

By 1938, the New Deal was concluded. It followed the enactment of the Fair Labor Standards (Kennedy 2003, 201). The author does not merely give an account of the piece of legislation that ended the New Deal. He pauses in the middle portion of the book to appraise the effectiveness of the Act.

This approach assists the reader to cultivate deeper thoughts and insights before proceeding with the subsequent chapters. The author critiques the much-taunted objectives of the New Deal by arguing that it never managed to redistribute income or end the Great Depression.

According to Kennedy, the deal merely offered job security to Americans. Needless to say, the author is quite elusive when examining aspects such as market security, financial security and life-cycle security in relation to the New Deal.

The Second World War has also been given an expansive view by the author. War and foreign affairs are tackled in the second part while the first section mainly dwells on domestic affairs. The astounding productive capacity was the main reason behind the success of the United States.

The author repeatedly revolves around this theme. Perhaps, it was not necessary for Kennedy to overemphasize the economic strength of the United States against other global players bearing in mind that the country was already an economic powerhouse even before the advent of the First World War.

By the end of the first part of the book, there is no doubt that Kennedy has managed to persuade his allies and friend in the same measure.

The author has skillfully articulated and tossed his arguments on both sides of the debate. He has highlighted the leadership pros and cons of both Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Reference List

Kennedy, David. 2003. Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945. New York: Oxford University Press.

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IvyPanda. (2019) '“Freedom from Fear” by David M. Kennedy'. 25 June.

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