How we got here

Eager to reassure a shaken public, President Franklin D. Roosevelt stretched the truth when he averred in his first inaugural address, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” In reality, there was good reason to be afraid. The world economy remained in the deepest of doldrums, and societies across the globe were turning to dictators for answers. By the time Roosevelt assumed office on March 4, 1933, Hirohito, Mussolini and Stalin were already ruling with iron fists; and not three weeks later the Reichstag  invested the power of the German state in Chancellor Adolf Hitler. Were liberal democracies ill equipped to manage a crisis of such magnitude? It was a genuine question, as Ira Katznelson underscores in this important and engrossing book.

 

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