FDR Was Wrong All-Around

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Dear Amity,

I read with interest your recent article in the WSJ, “The Real Deal.” I am delighted that you are getting such exposure for the ideas developed in your new book, The Forgotten Man. Naturally, too, I appreciate your crediting me with having made an important contribution to this area of study.

By going beyond the conventional scholarship, you have come to understand how greatly the public’s understanding of the New Deal and the Great Depression has suffered because of popular myths, ideological blindness, and dismissal of unpopular, revisionist views.

Yet, you write: “The incredible rightness of FDR’s war policy obscures the flaws in his prior actions.” I am convinced that if you were to invest the same effort in studying FDR’s war policies that you have invested in studying his domestic policies, you would conclude that the public’s understanding of FDR and World War II has suffered to an even greater extent because of popular myths, ideological blindness, and dismissal of unpopular, revisionist views.

I suspect, in fact, that reading a single book, though a long one, would change your view of FDR’s war policies greatly. That book is Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, edited by Harry Elmer Barnes, which was originally published in 1953. Of course, a great deal of additional research has been done along similar lines since 1953, but the Barnes book alone is, I am convinced, sufficient to show you what is terribly wrong with the received wisdom about Roosevelt and the war.

Of course, I wish you every success with The Forgotten Man. By writing this book and then promoting it so astutely, you are doing a great service to the public’s education.

Warm wishes,
Bob

Robert Higgs [send him mail] is senior fellow in political economy at the Independent Institute and editor of The Independent Review. His most recent book is Neither Liberty Nor Safety: Fear, Ideology, and the Growth of Government. He is also the author of Depression, War, and Cold War: Studies in Political Economy, Resurgence of the Warfare State: The Crisis Since 9/11 and Against Leviathan Government Power and a Free Society.

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