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Soul Of A People: The WPA Writers' Project Uncovers Depression America (2009)

by David A. Taylor(Favorite Author)
3.96 of 5 Votes: 5
0470403802 (ISBN13: 9780470403808)
review 1: The subject matter - the Federal Writers' Project, a key part of the most ambitious and audacious social history and arts project ever undertaken - really carries this book, but is undermined by the ordinary prose and questionable structure. Particularly disappointing is the account of the project's demise, which is presented almost in brief and without any of the grand importance and drama attributed to the project during its tenure and its subsequent impact on writing and society.
review 2: Odd--sort of the companion to a documentary, it tells the stories behind the stories of some of the WPA state guides. Sort of. Sometimes it just kind of retails some anecdotes and stops, as in California. Sometimes it's thematic. Sometimes not. Sometimes, as in Louisiana,
... morewhere it details a pattern of censorship and surveillance, or Florida, where it discusses workers kept on plantations in near-medieval slavery, it's powerful and distressing. He finds an early Jim Thompson piece about the death of a hobo and makes a good case for its influence on Thompson's later work. (Maybe the most interesting part are the glimpses of plains-state literary culture. Being a writer with ambitions in Omaha in 1935 cannot have been fun.) But it's not really a cohesive guide to the project, to the ways it was produced (there are occasional quasi-populist references to how Washington interfered that don't add up to much), or to how it worked as a whole. Still, since I will read more or less anything about the 30s, I lapped it up anyway. less
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This makes me want to read more Zora Neale Hurston and the WPA state guides.
fascinating. i'm very interested in the WPA Projects.
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