Ryan McCarl

Reading, writing, learning, languages, law, politics, etc.

Rethinking the Great Depression and the New Deal

I’ve become increasingly interested in the history of the 1930s, and I just finished Eric Rauchway’s The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction.  It has become increasingly clear to me that there are major holes in the dominant historical narrative about the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Roosevelt administration.  The standard, high-school-textbook version of the story goes something like this: “Greedy stock market speculators caused the stock market crash of 1929, which triggered the worst depression in American history; President Herbert Hoover believed in an outdated laissez-faire economic philosophy, so he did nothing; thankfully, President Roosevelt was elected, and his New Deal policies saved capitalism and helped the common man survive the Great Depression; and finally, World War II was an enormous boon to the U. Read more →

Book received: ‘The Crimean War: A New History’

Thanks to Henry Holt and Company for sending a review copy of Orlando Figes’ The Crimean War: A History.”  I look forward to reading it. Authors and publishers interested in sending review copies of books in the social sciences or humanities - especially education and international relations - should contact me by email at ryan (dot) mccarl (at) wideawakeminds (dot) com.— Ryan McCarl Homepage: http://ryanmccarl.com Wide Awake Minds: http://wideawakeminds.com Blog: http://blog. Read more →

Excerpts from Jacques Barzun, ‘From Dawn to Decadence’

(Note: The excerpts below are related to issues outside of education; I will post education-related excerpts from From Dawn to Decadenceon Wide Awake Minds, my education blog. You can find these here if you are interested.) Here are a few excerpts from what I’ve read so far: — In any art a new technical power leads to uses and ideas not suspected at first. … Another singularity in Petrarch’s life was that he climbed a high hill in southern France in order to admire the view. Read more →

Readings from Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’

I am currently reading Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl, a psychiatrist, was imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, for several years. He survived the experience and went on to develop the theory of “logotherapy,” a branch of psychoanalysis that focuses on human beings’ “will to meaning.” The part of the book that discusses Frankl’s memories of his camp experience is, like any Holocaust memoir worth its salt, extremely disturbing and difficult to read, but it ought to be read in spite of that. Read more →

Discovering the letters of Justice William O. Douglas

I was sorting through some books in my closet yesterday, and I discovered a fantastic book which drew me away from my regular reading: The Douglas Letters: Selections from the Private Papers of William O. Douglas, edited by Melvin I. Urkofsky. William O. Douglas was a brilliant, contrarian Associate Justice on the Supreme Court as well as a transformative environmentalist and New Dealer who crusaded against rampant speculation and corruption in the financial industry. Read more →