Review of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression

The Politically Incorrect series provides a powerful revisionist account of past events. I use revisionist in a neutral sense. It can be used to confirm biases or to challenge the conventional wisdom. With respect to economic history, revisionism is important. The resources and data available to modern economists provides a unique perspective to the events. This combined with additional years to analyze the situation help sober the image.

In Robert Murphy’s book, an explanation for the Great Depression is put forth that challenges what I was taught in school and makes a much more powerful case than the talking-points history of the left (capitalism failed, FDR saved us, the war ended the Great Depression). Extremely logically and well researched, this book shows how Hoover was just a FDR-lite and it was not the free market that caused the Great Depression. I can hear the gasps now from people on the left, but it’s true. Focusing around Austrian business-cycle theory, Murphy explains why the expansion of money (an error of government) in 1920’s led to the crash and poor decisions prolonged the Depression. Even conservatives, especially followers of Milton Friedman, have some tough questions posed about the causes of the Depression. Earlier recessions (specifically the early 1920’s) are constantly contrasted to show the folly of liberal/Keynesian policy.

If you want to challenge what you’ve learned over the years (and everyone should), this book provides a great lesson in economics, history and politics. 4 of 5 stars.

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