The best books on the New Deal 📚

Browse the best books on the New Deal as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

Coming Fall 2022: The ability to sort this list by genre (signup here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books).

Book cover of Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era

Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era

By Patricia Sullivan

Why this book?

In a pathbreaking examination of the New Deal and race, Patricia Sullivan does a deep dive into how the Roosevelt administration’s policies played out and, in most cases, failed Black people. While that story is a disappointing one, she also shows how the era created opportunities for a biracial coalition of Black and white progressives to come together to push for a vision of a revitalized American Democracy based in racial equality. Sullivan offers compelling accounts of the dynamic leadership provided by the NAACP, Black New Dealers, and Black activists in challenging American racism as they worked with white allies.…
From the list:

The best books on Black Americans and the Roosevelt era

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Black Culture and the New Deal: The Quest for Civil Rights in the Roosevelt Era

Black Culture and the New Deal: The Quest for Civil Rights in the Roosevelt Era

By Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff

Why this book?

Sandwiched between the creative outpourings of the Harlem Renaissance and the Cold War, Black cultural expression during the Roosevelt years is often overlooked. Lauren Skalroff corrects this by exploring the various venues where Black artists contributed during the New Deal era. Black cultural workers encountered overwhelming discrimination as they navigated the world of art, theater, music, writing, radio, film, and other cultural outlets that were controlled by white Americans. But the New Deal’s arts programs did offer some opportunities for Black artistic autonomy and genuine expression. In some cases, Black artists were able, to a degree, to challenge negative stereotypes.…
From the list:

The best books on Black Americans and the Roosevelt era

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Invisible Hands: The Businessmen's Crusade Against the New Deal

Invisible Hands: The Businessmen's Crusade Against the New Deal

By Kim Phillips-Fein

Why this book?

Shifting away from the grassroots origins of modern conservatism, Invisible Hands examines how wealthy, conservative businessmen mobilized to counter the power of organized labor, dismantle the New Deal, and propel the right into political power. Phillips-Fein begins her story in the Depression, as a small set of disgruntled industrialists organized against what they saw as creeping socialism, embodied in FDR’s New Deal. Although marginal at first, these titans of capitalism spent great effort and tremendous sums of money to change the tone and tenor of American politics, convincing many Americans to abandon the promises of economic security for the supposed…

From the list:

The best books on the history of American conservatism

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Partner and I: Molly Dewson, Feminism, and New Deal Politics

Partner and I: Molly Dewson, Feminism, and New Deal Politics

By Susan Ware

Why this book?

Susan Ware, who describes herself as a serial biographer, is a champion of feminist biography. I like this one so much because she so forthrightly acknowledges the importance of Mary W. Dewson’s partnership with Polly Porter in her wide-ranging activism, which included “Minimum Wage Dewson’s” battle for a living wage and “More Women Dewson’s” campaign to appoint women to prominent positions in the New Deal administration. Not to be missed are the wonderful images from the “Porter-Dewson” scrapbook, including the women’s photographs with their beloved canine companions. In addition to highlighting the couple’s personal relationship and political activism, Partner and…

From the list:

The best biographies about American women activists

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Last Great Strike: Little Steel, the CIO, and the Struggle for Labor Rights in New Deal America

The Last Great Strike: Little Steel, the CIO, and the Struggle for Labor Rights in New Deal America

By Ahmed White

Why this book?

Once you’ve read Zinn, you are going to want to know more about the workers’ struggle. Among recent books, you can’t do better than Ahmed White’s book on this iconic struggle of the 1930s, when the steel companies massacred strikers and even the Roosevelt administration did nothing about it. Powerful story and very well-written.

From the list:

The best books to read after Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Great Depression of the 1930s: Lessons for Today

The Great Depression of the 1930s: Lessons for Today

By Nicholas Crafts, Peter Fearon

Why this book?

This book is highly recommended for those who want to get an overview of the newest research on the Great Depression. Written by leading economic historians, the book explains what made the catastrophe possible, why it spread across the globe, and how it was ended. Most importantly, the authors manage to explain the scholarly literature in a language that can be understood by everyone interested in the period.

From the list:

The best books on the Great Depression and its impact on history

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Or, view all 14 books about the New Deal

New book lists about the New Deal

All book lists about the New Deal

Bookshelves related to the New Deal

Browse books by…