Reconstructing the story of how reformers used public authority to reshape the nation, Jason Scott Smith argues that the New Deal produced a revolution in state-sponsored economic development. The scale and scope of this dramatic federal investment in infrastructure laid crucial foundations--sometimes literally--for postwar growth, prestaging the national highways and the military-industrial complex. This impressive and exhaustively researched analysis underscores the importance of the New Deal in comprehending political and economic change in modern America.
1. Reevaluating the New Deal state and the public works revolution; 2. Economic development and unemployment in the early New Deal; 3. Making a New Deal state: patronage and the Public Works Administration; 4. The dilemma of New Deal public works: people or projects?; 5. 'Boondoggling' and the welfare state; 6. Party building and 'pernicious political activities': the road to the Hatch Act; 7. Public works and New Deal liberalism in reorganization and war; 8. Public works and the postwar world; 9. Epilogue: public works and the building of New Deal liberalism.
Winner of the 2007 Abel Wolman Award of the Public Works Historical Society
"What lay at the center of the New Deal? Was it the emergence of a new regulatory state? Or of a new welfare, laborite, corporate, or consumerist one? Arguments for each exist. But in this provocative, elegantly written, and massively researched study, Jason Scott Smith maintains that its real center lay elsewhere...Smith has given us a major work deserving of a wide readership."
Business History Review
"Jason Scott Smith provides us with a well-written narrative history that offers a tremendous amount of new information carefully gleaned from archival sources. Economic historians, general historians, and students of the New Deal with learn a great deal from reading it." - Price V. Fishback, University of Arizona, EH.NET
"Smith deserves considerable praise for this book. The clarity of writing is impressive; the narrative flow carries the reader along gently from beginning to end." - Richard E. Holl
"If this is not the definitive study of public works projects and political jockeying in the era of Franklin D. Roosevelt, then it comes pretty close." - kenneth J. Heineman, Ohio University
"A fine study brimming with insights about the New Deal state, expertise, and the political economy of public works in the middle decades of the twentieth century."
Jessica Wang, Technology and Culture
"The range of Jason Scott Smith's research is impressive. His location and use of both primary and secondary material is admirable. His style is lucid and the material in the volume is well organized." -Peter Fearon, American Studies