Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Black Tuesday: Prelude to the Great Depression

Black Tuesday: Prelude to the Great Depression

Robin S. Doak
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
Compass Point Books, 2007   ISBN: 978-0756533274

Many people think that the Great Depression happened suddenly. And they think that it was brought about solely because of the financial crash that took place in October of 1929. The reality of the situation was a lot more complicated. The economic decline which lead to the Great Depression began long before 1929 and it was a gradual process. When World War I ended people went a little mad, throwing themselves into a frenzy of spending money and having fun. The 1920's were not called the "Roaring 20's" for nothing, and many people let loose and lived on the edge without thinking about the consequences. Thus they bought goods on credit and they bought stocks on margin and often the stocks they bought were not a good investment in the first place. The government refused to get involved in this risky behavior and they did nothing to ensure that the stocks that people bought were worth what people were paying for them.

In addition unemployment was going up, farmers were having problems, and the market was getting flooded with too many goods. A few brave souls tried to warn the powers that be that these were warning signs of an underlying financial problem but no one wanted to listen. No, everyone wanted to think that these were the best times in American history and that everyone who wanted to could become rich. And, for a while, things did indeed look splendid and hopeful, at least on the surface.

Then in March of 1929 even the facade began to crack. The value of stock in the stock market fell to record lows, and though it rallied people began to get jumpy. There were further drops in May and September as well as record highs. It all finally fell apart beginning on October 23rd. For the whole of the following week a financial crisis unlike anything anyone had ever seen before played out in the New York Stock Exchange. On the 29th more stocks were "dumped" in a single day then ever before and people all over the country were ruined. Nothing could be done to save the day and people from all walks of life lost their life savings overnight.

This financial disaster was now added to what had already been building up for years, to what people had been ignoring for so long, and the cumulative effect would propel the country into the worst depression the United States had ever experienced.

The author of this excellent “Snapshots in History” title clearly explains what occurred in the years leading up to and after the 1929 “Black Tuesday” Wall Street crash. Readers will be able to see how many factors combined to cause both the crash and the Great Depression. Informative side bars provide interesting background information and period photographs can be found throughout the book.