Book Review: Republic of Detours: How the New Deal Paid Broke Writers to Rediscover America

Republic of Detours: How the New Deal Paid Broke Writers to Rediscover AmericaRepublic of Detours: How the New Deal Paid Broke Writers to Rediscover America by Scott Borchert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book is about the Federal Writers Project in the 1930s - early 1940s. It was a program designed to employ thousands of unemployed writers during the Depression. The project's mission was to write guidebooks for each of the 48 states. Of course, agreement on what constituted a guidebook was only one of the initial problems. This is a fascinating story, well written, and it will talk about writers that became quite famous.

Of course, conservatives hated it. Congressional Republicans put together a commission to ferret out communists from the WPA, but took a special interest in the writers project. There were communist party members writing these guides, but little ended up in the books the FWP published. The book touches on some of the attitudes toward minorities and immigrants held by conservatives then. An advantage to reading history is to see that things that happen to us aren't always new. As I write this segments of our population are anti-immigrant, against free trade, even anti-science. Read enough history and you'll realize we've been here before and got through it. Hopefully, in this case past performance does predict future performance.

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