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The Unpredictable PastExplorations in American Cultural History$
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Lawrence W. Levine

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780195082975

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195082975.001.0001

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American Culture and the Great Depression

American Culture and the Great Depression

(p.206) 11 American Culture and the Great Depression
The Unpredictable Past

Lawrence W. Levine

Oxford University Press

The chapter provides views on Americans and their culture during the Great Depression. No people is ever really prepared for major economic crisis. For many black Americans the Depression merely intensified an unjust economic situation that had been prevalent. Americans had not experienced a major protracted economic crisis since the 1890s. The American people did not enter the Depression in a tabula rasa. They assured themselves that they were a supremely rational and progressive society. Suddenly they found themselves inhabiting a land whose cruel incongruities and ironies could no longer be ignored. Everywhere there was hunger. The mood of the American people during the early years of the Depression was that of fear. One cannot fully understand the Great Depression and its effect upon the American society without attempting to understand the reactions and attitudes of the people in their everyday culture.

Keywords:   Great Depression, Americans, major economic crisis, black Americans, tabula rasa

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