The Woman Behind the New Deal – Description:

The Woman Behind Kirstin Downeys excellent new biography of Perkins . . . is timed perfectly as the U.S. faces the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression. –Dierdre Donahue USA Today The book is more than a biography of an extraordinary woman. It is a window to another time through which we are able to observe the birthing pains of reforms we now take for granted. . . . Many passages dealing with the Great Depression immigration and the impending world war could have been lifted from todays news. –Charlestown Post and Courier The New Deal was a big deal for America — and as Kirstin Downey shows in this illuminating and sparkling book Frances Perkins my predecessor as Labor Secretary was the moving force behind much of it. Her legacy included Social Security unemployment insurance and other initiatives that have improved the lives of generations of Americans. With wit and insight Downey recounts the accomplishments of this singular woman and invites us to celebrate her life. –Robert B. Reich Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Kirstin Downey gives Frances Perkins the biography she deserves the story of a fierce advocate who put people first a public servant who was actually worthy of the name and a bracing reminder of what inspired government can do. Perkins ignored the glass ceiling and changed America. This book is a joy! –Nick Taylor author of American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work For all of her apparent modesty and fierce sense of privacy Frances Perkins wanted to be known by posterity for her contributions to FDR and his New Deal particularly Social Security. An investigative reporter Kirstin Downey has uncovered France Perkinss extraordinary strengths in shaping and securing the central domestic accomplishments of the New Dealers. Despite continuing impediments Perkins a social worker successfully broke into a mans world and was a major player for all twelve years of FDRs administration. Downey deftly links the Progressive movement of the early 1900s with the reforms Perkins helped FDR achieve particularly in his first two terms. In Downeys skilled hands Frances Perkins at last emerges as a pivotal figure in the most transformative twelve years of twentieth century American history. –Christopher N. Breiseth President and CEO of The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute For his presidency to succeed FDR needed a strong labor secretary to restore jobs and confidence. Perkins was that loyal lieutenant as well as his unrelenting prod and social conscience. –Mary Leonard Pittsburgh Post-Gazette The story of Ms. Perkins turns out to be in the sympathetic hands of Ms. Downey a remarkably good read surprisingly full of dramatic twists despite that motherly hat and low-profile manner. –Priscilla Taylor The Washington Times The current economic woes have among other things focused attention once again on the New Deal. Books about the economics the politics and the personalities of the time have surfaced. Still as a new book by award-winning business journalist Kirstin Downey suggests one of the most influential figures in shaping the New Deal turns out to be a name few know today–and turns out to be a woman. Eight years of research new documents and interviews with family members were among the many sources Downey drew on for her new and compelling portrait of The Woman Behind the New Deal. –Sarah Bagby NPR Its a provocative title but Downey convinced me that Fannie Perkins of Beacon Hill Worcester and Mount Holyoke College was the woman behind the New Deal. Her book could not be more timely. –Alex Beam Boston Globe Reading the biography of FDRs Labor Secretary Frances Perkins brings to mind the old saying about how Ginger Rogers had to do everything Fred Astaire did except backward and in high heels. Perkins the first female Cabinet member not only had to do more than her male counterparts to prove herself. . . . Perkins would have notched a place in history simply by taking the job. But she earned it through a jaw-dropping number of accomplishments. Perkins took a major role in shepherding through Social Security unemployment insurance child labor laws and the minimum wage. –Michael Hill Associated Press At a time when the United States stands at the brink of another economic meltdown calling for sweeping federal interventions Downey provides not only a superb rendering of history but also a large dose of inspiration drawn from Perkinss clearheaded decisive work with FDR to solve urgent problems diligently and to succeed in the face of what seemed insurmountable odds. –Publishers Weekly Prize-winning journalist Downey deconstructs the life of a passionate labor advocate who became the nations first female Cabinet member. . . . Making excellent use of personal papers and of archival materials that include a The Woman Behind the New Deal –