Comic Book Review: The Forgotten Man Graphic Edition by Amity Shlaes & Paul Rivoche
Disclaimer: I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway on the premise that I would review it. My copy was an uncorrected proof, and some changes will occur in the final edition (due out around May 2014.)
This is a “graphic novel” version of the revisionist history book by Amity Shlaes in which she argues that the New Deal policies tended to prolong the Great Depression. For this version, the story is told through the narration of Wendell Willkie, an electric utility executive that ran against Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1940 election.
The black and white Rivoche art serves the subject well, although casting FDR’s face in shadow much of the time is an artistic choice that is perhaps a bit too obvious in its intentions.
The general notion is that government intervention in the economy was (and is) a bad thing, and that self-starting individuals such as the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous could have brought the country out of its slump much earlier. It also tries to link several of the important figures in the Roosevelt Administration to Communism, a frequent bugaboo of neoconservatives.
That said, there were many missteps in the great experiment of the New Deal, and several of them get a mention here. Some of them don’t come across quite as the author intended, I think, looking more like the result of bad individual decisions than bad government policy.
There are some really good bits in here, such as the running gag of Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon not talking.
The back has a (possibly misleading) timeline and economic chart, followed by a listing of the cast of characters. The potted biographies carefully cut off as of 1940, which means that you will need to do your own research on such figures as Ayn Rand to see where they actually ended up.
As noted in the disclaimer, this is an uncorrected proof, and some dialogue balloons have missing words or badly constructed sentences, making them make little sense, which will presumably be fixed in the finished product.
Fans of the original book should find this one interesting, as well as history buffs who enjoy graphic novels. Those of you who are not familiar with economics may want to brush up a bit to more fully understand the positions being argued here. In honesty, I’m recommending this one more for the art than the writing.