The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR's Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience

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Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 458 pages
29 Reviews

Frances Perkins is no longer a household name, yet she was one of the most influential women of the twentieth century. Based on eight years of research, extensive archival materials, new documents, and exclusive access to Perkinsís family members and friends, this biography is the first complete portrait of a devoted public servant with a passionate personal life, a mother who changed the landscape of American business and society.

Frances Perkins was named Secretary of Labor by Franklin Roosevelt in 1933. As the first female cabinet secretary, she spearheaded the fight to improve the lives of Americaís working people while juggling her own complex family responsibilities. Perkinsís ideas became the cornerstones of the most important social welfare and legislation in the nationís history, including unemployment compensation, child labor laws, and the forty-hour work week.

Arriving in Washington at the height of the Great Depression, Perkins pushed for massive public works projects that created millions of jobs for unemployed workers. She breathed life back into the nationís labor movement, boosting living standards across the country. As head of the Immigration Service, she fought to bring European refugees to safety in the United States. Her greatest triumph was creating Social Security.

Written with a wit that echoes Frances Perkinsís own, award-winning journalist Kirstin Downey gives us a riveting exploration of how and why Perkins slipped into historical oblivion, and restores Perkins to her proper place in history.

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Review: The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR'S Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience

User Review  - Amanda - Goodreads

I'd say read it and then pass it along... or maybe keep it to re-read it. I didn't learn much of anything in my American History class. I learned more about history in third grade than I did in all of ... Read full review

Review: The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR'S Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience

User Review  - Diana - Goodreads

I had read how the state of ME took down her mural - one of the comments was it is reminiscent of ďcommunist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the massesĒ. I had to find out more ... Read full review

About the author (2009)

KIRSTIN DOWNEY joined The Washington Post in 1988 and has won Press Association awards for her business and economic reporting. Most recently she shared in the 2008 Pulitzer Prize awarded to The Washington Post for its coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. She was awarded a Nieman fellowship at Harvard University, where her research into the countryís economic history led to this biography. She lives in Washington, D.C.

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