100 books like The Great Depression of the 1930s

By Nicholas Crafts (editor), Peter Fearon (editor),

Here are 100 books that The Great Depression of the 1930s fans have personally recommended if you like The Great Depression of the 1930s. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World

Alan Bollard Author Of Economists at War: How a Handful of Economists Helped Win and Lose the World Wars

From my list on how economists agree and disagree amongst each other.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an economics professor at Victoria University of Wellington. As a previous Secretary of the New Zealand Treasury and Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, I have had quite a bit of experience watching economists’ ideas succeed and fail in the real world. I have written a number of books about policy economists and their lives in peace and wartime. (And a couple of novels too!)

Alan's book list on how economists agree and disagree amongst each other

Alan Bollard Why did Alan love this book?

This is the story of four (European and American) central bankers fighting the dramas and crises during the lead-up to the Great Depression. When crisis looms, Bank of England Governor Montagu Norman puts on a disguise and boards a cruise ship to consult with his friend Benjamin Strong in New York. If only financial crises could still be fought that way today! I liked it because I used to be a central bank governor myself!

By Liaquat Ahamed,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Lords of Finance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

"Erudite, entertaining macroeconomic history of the lead-up to the Great Depression as seen through the careers of the West's principal bankers . . . Spellbinding, insightful and, perhaps most important, timely." -Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"There is terrific prescience to be found in [Lords of Finance's] portrait of times past . . . [A] writer of great verve and erudition, [Ahamed] easily connects the dots between the economic crises that rocked the world during the years his book covers and the fiscal emergencies that beset us today." -The New York Times

It is commonly believed that…


Book cover of Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the Uses-And Misuses-Of History

Tobias Straumann Author Of 1931: Debt, Crisis, and the Rise of Hitler

From my list on the Great Depression and its impact on history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I began to study history at the university, I have always wondered why things could get so wrong in Europe in the 1930s. The key to understanding this crucial period of world history was the failure of economic policy. In the course of my studies, many of my questions have been answered, but I am still wondering about the extent of human and institutional collapse. Hence, to me, the Great Depression is such a fascinating topic that you can never leave once you started doing research about its causes and consequences.

Tobias' book list on the Great Depression and its impact on history

Tobias Straumann Why did Tobias love this book?

Our view of the Great Depression was changed by the Great Recession following the financial crisis of 2008. No one has a better grasp of the similarities and differences between the two major economic shocks of the last 100 years than Barry Eichengreen. Most interesting are Eichengreen’s reflections about the right and wrong lessons the firefighters of the 2008 financial crisis drew from the Great Depression.

By Barry Eichengreen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hall of Mirrors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The two great financial crises of the past century are the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession, which began in 2008. Both occurred against the backdrop of sharp credit booms, dubious banking practices, and a fragile and unstable global financial system. When markets went into cardiac arrest in 2008, policymakers invoked the lessons of the Great Depression in attempting to avert the worst. While their response prevented a financial collapse and
catastrophic depression like that of the 1930s, unemployment in the U.S. and Europe still rose to excruciating high levels. Pain and suffering were widespread.

The question,…


Book cover of End of Globalization: Lessons from the Great Depression

Tobias Straumann Author Of 1931: Debt, Crisis, and the Rise of Hitler

From my list on the Great Depression and its impact on history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I began to study history at the university, I have always wondered why things could get so wrong in Europe in the 1930s. The key to understanding this crucial period of world history was the failure of economic policy. In the course of my studies, many of my questions have been answered, but I am still wondering about the extent of human and institutional collapse. Hence, to me, the Great Depression is such a fascinating topic that you can never leave once you started doing research about its causes and consequences.

Tobias' book list on the Great Depression and its impact on history

Tobias Straumann Why did Tobias love this book?

Financial crises are not only catastrophic because of their devastating economic consequences. They also unleash radical political forces undermining the foundations of our free and open society. Widely praised for his work on Germany in the interwar years, Harold James is the best historian to describe the vicious circle of crisis, radicalization, and national isolation in the 1930s and to discuss the question: can it happen again?

By Harold James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked End of Globalization as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Globalization" is here. Signified by an increasingly close economic interconnection that has led to profound political and social change around the world, the process seems irreversible. In this book, however, Harold James provides a sobering historical perspective, exploring the circumstances in which the globally integrated world of an earlier era broke down under the pressure of unexpected events.

James examines one of the great historical nightmares of the twentieth century: the collapse of globalism in the Great Depression. Analyzing this collapse in terms of three main components of global economics--capital flows, trade, and international migration--James argues that it was not…


Book cover of The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931

Tobias Straumann Author Of 1931: Debt, Crisis, and the Rise of Hitler

From my list on the Great Depression and its impact on history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I began to study history at the university, I have always wondered why things could get so wrong in Europe in the 1930s. The key to understanding this crucial period of world history was the failure of economic policy. In the course of my studies, many of my questions have been answered, but I am still wondering about the extent of human and institutional collapse. Hence, to me, the Great Depression is such a fascinating topic that you can never leave once you started doing research about its causes and consequences.

Tobias' book list on the Great Depression and its impact on history

Tobias Straumann Why did Tobias love this book?

The book of Adam Tooze is a masterful synthesis of global history and offers an original reinterpretation of the interwar years. Readers not only gain intriguing insights about the relationships between military, financial, political, and diplomatic events. They will also be surprised by a new and well-founded view of US hegemony after 1916 that contradicts almost everything they learned in school or in other historical books.

By Adam Tooze,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Deluge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A searing and highly original analysis of the First World War and its anguished aftermath-from the prizewinning economist and author of Shutdown, Crashed and The Wages of Destruction

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize - History
Finalist for the Kirkus Prize - Nonfiction

In the depths of the Great War, with millions dead and no imaginable end to the conflict, societies around the world began to buckle. The heart of the financial system shifted from London to New York. The infinite demands for men and materiel reached into countries far from the front. The strain of the war…


Book cover of Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, & the Great Depression

Moshik Temkin Author Of Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial

From my list on leadership and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Moshik Temkin is a historian of the United States and the World and has taught about leadership and history at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Harvard University in Massachusetts, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and other institutions around the world. He is the author of The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial and is writing a book on leadership in history for PublicAffairs called Warriors, Rebels, and Saints: On Leaders and Leadership in History.

Moshik's book list on leadership and history

Moshik Temkin Why did Moshik love this book?

This groundbreaking and wonderfully written study of two “protest” leaders during the Great Depression of the 1930s in the United States shows us what happens when truly hard times hit ordinary people, and what sort of leaders they then turn to. Brinkley brilliantly chronicles the rise of Louisiana politician Huey Long, the “Kingfish”, from obscurity in the poor Jim Crow south to becoming, by the time he was assassinated in 1935, the most significant political threat to the popular President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Long’s calls for wealth redistribution, contempt for traditional elites, and disregard for democratic institutions, make him an important historical example of so-called populist leadership, and of the power and appeal of populism in times of crisis.

By Alan Brinkley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Voices of Protest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The study of two great demagogues in American history--Huey P. Long, a first-term United States Senator from the red-clay, piney-woods country of nothern Louisiana; and Charles E. Coughlin, a Catholic priest from an industrial suburb near Detroit. Award-winning historian Alan Brinkely describes their modest origins and their parallel rise together in the early years of the Great Depression to become the two most successful leaders of national political dissidence of their era. 

*Winner of the American Book Award for History*


Book cover of Since Yesterday: The 1930's in America, September 3, 1929 to September 3, 1939

Susan Wittig Albert Author Of The Darling Dahlias and the Red Hot Poker

From my list on America’s toughest time: life in the dirty thirties.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer and history buff who loves to make fiction out of facts. For me, the best stories are imagined out of truths we have all lived, real places that are mapped in our memories, real people whose names conjure events, past times that are prelude to our own. I like to read books built on plots and puzzles, so I write mysteries. I love books about real people, so I write biographical novels bent around the secret selves of people we only thought we knew: Eleanor Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Georgia O’Keeffe. 

Susan's book list on America’s toughest time: life in the dirty thirties

Susan Wittig Albert Why did Susan love this book?

I’m a huge fan of books that are packed with compelling details. In Since Yesterday, Frederick Allen covers everything about the Thirties, from fashion to food to politics, music, and movies—and everything in between. A powerful story, sometimes dark but rich with odd little treasures that will make you smile. I especially like the searchable digital edition. Example quote: “Dance orchestras were blaring ‘The Music Goes ’Round and ’Round.’ Major Bowes was the current radio sensation, so warmly did he inquire into the life histories of the yodelers and jews-harp-players on his Amateur Hour. At the movie houses Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were dancing nimbly in ‘Follow the Fleet.’ Seven-year-old Shirley Temple was becoming the rising star of Hollywood.”

By Frederick Lewis Allen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Since Yesterday as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A “wonderfully written account of America in the ’30s,” the follow-up to Only Yesterday examines Black Tuesday through the end of the Depression (The New York Times).

Wall Street Journal Bestseller

Opening on September 3, 1929, in the days before the stock market crash, this information-packed volume takes us through one of America’s darkest times all the way to the light at the end of the tunnel.
 
Following Black Tuesday, America plunged into the Great Depression. Panic and fear gripped the nation. Banks were closing everywhere. In some cities, 84 percent of the population was unemployed and starving. When Franklin…


Book cover of Germans Into Nazis

Benjamin Carter Hett Author Of The Death of Democracy: Hitler's Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic

From my list on the legacy of the First World War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a law school graduate heading for my first job when, unable to think of anything better to do with my last afternoon in London, I wandered through the First World War galleries of the Imperial War Museum. I was hypnotized by a slide show of Great War propaganda posters, stunned by their clever viciousness in getting men to volunteer and wives and girlfriends to pressure them. Increasingly fascinated, I started reading about the war and its aftermath. After several years of this, I quit my job at a law firm and went back to school to become a professor. And here I am.

Benjamin's book list on the legacy of the First World War

Benjamin Carter Hett Why did Benjamin love this book?

Fritzsche shows here how, from 1914 to 1933, middle class Germans were welded into the political block that supported Hitler. Another spellbindingly original book – among other things, Fritzsche shows very persuasively that the Great Depression had little to do with the rise of Hitler – the Nazis’ recipe of egalitarian but nationalist politics was already doing its work before 1929.

By Peter Fritzsche,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Germans Into Nazis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why did ordinary Germans vote for Hitler? In this dramatically plotted book, organized around crucial turning points in 1914, 1918, and 1933, Peter Fritzsche explains why the Nazis were so popular and what was behind the political choice made by the German people.

Rejecting the view that Germans voted for the Nazis simply because they hated the Jews, or had been humiliated in World War I, or had been ruined by the Great Depression, Fritzsche makes the controversial argument that Nazism was part of a larger process of democratization and political invigoration that began with the outbreak of World War…


Book cover of Beyond the New Deal Order: U.S. Politics from the Great Depression to the Great Recession

Richard R. Weiner Author Of Sustainable Community Movement Organizations: Solidarity Economies and Rhizomatic Practices

From my list on understanding regimes of law and political economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Rich Weiner co-edited this featured volume with Francesca Forno. He is a political sociologist with a strong foundation in the history of political and social thought. He has served for twenty-two years as dean of the faculty of arts and sciences. His focus has been on non-statist political organizations and social movements with a perspective of middle-range theorizing enriched by three generations of Frankfurt School critical theory of society.

Richard's book list on understanding regimes of law and political economy

Richard R. Weiner Why did Richard love this book?

A collection of exceptional scholars explore what replaced the New Deal Order’s focus on economic justice at the end of the 1970s with a regime that came to be known as neoliberalism.

This very accessible book approaches the possibility of new forms of life known as solidarity economies and with it a turn toward social-economics.

I appreciate the attempt this history book makes to both take a long view and to create a conceptual framework regarding empirical cases.

By Gary Gerstle (editor), Nelson Lichtenstein (editor), Alice O'Connor (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beyond the New Deal Order as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ever since introducing the concept in the late 1980s, historians have been debating the origins, nature, scope, and limitations of the New Deal order-the combination of ideas, electoral and governing strategies, redistributive social policies, and full employment economics that became the standard-bearer for political liberalism in the wake of the Great Depression and commanded Democratic majorities for decades. In the decline and break-up of the New Deal coalition historians found keys to understanding the transformations that, by the late twentieth century, were shifting American politics to the right.
In Beyond the New Deal Order, contributors bring fresh perspective to the…


Book cover of Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945

Iwan W. Morgan Author Of FDR: Transforming the Presidency and Renewing America

From my list on why FDR was the greatest American president.

Why am I passionate about this?

I consider FDR the greatest of all presidents for leading America with distinction in the domestic crisis of the Great Depression and the foreign crisis of World War 2 and creating the modern presidency that survives today in the essential form he established. I have written books on Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan during fifty years as a US history professor in UK universities. I always intended to write a book about how FDR reinvented the presidency that these Republicans inherited, something I finally did in ‘retirement’. My five chosen books explain the challenging times he faced and the leadership skills he displayed in meeting them.     

Iwan's book list on why FDR was the greatest American president

Iwan W. Morgan Why did Iwan love this book?

This Pulitzer Prize-winning study is the best single-volume history of America in the Age of FDR.  Meticulously researched, ambitiously conceived, and vividly written, it crafts superb portraits of the presidencies of Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Kennedy offers a balanced assessment of FDR’s New Deal, concluding that his reforms enhanced the socio-economic security of millions of Americans despite their overall failure in the 1930s to achieve economic recovery, which would only come about through the crucible of war in the early 1940s. However, the real heroes of the book are the American people for their resilience and resolve in the face of the Great Depression and World War 2, the two greatest challenges the United States faced in the twentieth century.  

By David M. Kennedy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Freedom from Fear as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Between 1929 and 1945, two great travails were visited upon the American people: the Great Depression and World War II. Freedom from Fear tells the story of how Americans endured, and eventually prevailed, in the face of those unprecedented calamities.

The Depression was both a disaster and an opportunity. As David Kennedy vividly demonstrates, the economic crisis of the 1930s was far more than a simple reaction to the alleged excesses of the 1920s. For more than a century before 1929, America's unbridled industrial revolution had gyrated through repeated boom and bust cycles, wastefullly consuming capital and inflicting untold misery…


Book cover of John Maynard Keynes: 1883-1946: Economist, Philosopher, Statesman

Erwin Dekker Author Of The Viennese Students of Civilization: The Meaning and Context of Austrian Economics Reconsidered

From my list on cultural knowledge to understand the economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and economist who is fascinated by the intersection of the economy and culture. This started for me with the idea that economic ideas were shaped by the cultural context in which they emerged, which resulted in my book on the Viennese Students. Over time it has expanded to an interest for the markets for the arts from music to the visual arts, as well as the way in which culture and morality influence economic dynamism. Economics and the humanities are frequently believed to be at odds with each other, but I hope to inspire a meaningful conversation between them.

Erwin's book list on cultural knowledge to understand the economy

Erwin Dekker Why did Erwin love this book?

Biographies of economists can be dull and technical, but not if their subject is John Maynard Keynes. The flamboyant British economist was a member of the Bloomsbury Group of Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster, married the famous Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova, and had a group of followers known as the Cambridge circus. The great skill of Skidelsky is his ability to integrate the many facets of Keynes life, from the exciting intellectual milieu of Cambridge and the cultural milieu in London to the economic problems of war, peace, and the Great Depression. This book demonstrates in vivid terms that economics is done by economists with an underlying vision. In Schumpeter’s words that of Keynes was that of: “the arteriosclerotic economy whose opportunities for rejuvenating venture were in permanent decline.”

By Robert Skidelsky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked John Maynard Keynes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE DEFINITIVE SINGLE-VOLUME BIOGRAPHY

Robert Skidelsky's three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes has been acclaimed as the authoritative account of the great economist-statesman's life. Here, Skidelsky has revised and abridged his magnum opus into one definitive book, which examines in its entirety the intellectual and ideological journey that led an extraordinarily gifted young man to concern himself with the practical problems of an age overshadowed by war. John Maynard Keynes offers a sympathetic account of the life of a passionate visionary and an invaluable insight into the economic philosophy that still remains at the centre of political and economic thought.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Great Depression, the economy, and Germany?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Great Depression, the economy, and Germany.

The Great Depression Explore 130 books about the Great Depression
The Economy Explore 193 books about the economy
Germany Explore 478 books about Germany