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Ed Driscoll

Interview: Amity Shlaes Discusses Coolidge (With Transcript)

February 11th, 2013 - 12:01 am

Columnist and author Amity Shlaes stops by for a half-hour interview to discuss Coolidge, her new sequel — or perhaps prequel is the better word — to The Forgotten Man, her best-selling look at the 1930s. The latter book shed new light on the Depression, by exploring its “Forgotten Men” — the entrepreneurs and employees whose lives were up-ended by the destructive “Progressive” policies of first Herbert Hoover, and then FDR.

Coolidge places the Roaring ‘20s into context by focusing on the man who helped make them possible, by getting out of the way. Silent Cal was the only president who ever said, “Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.” And along the way, as Amity mentions in our interview, “He was in office more than one presidential term.  And when he left that office, the federal budget was lower than when he came in.  Real, nominal — with vanilla sprinkles on top.  Wow, how’d he do that?”

How indeed? During our wide-ranging interview, Shlaes discusses such topics as:

● Recovering a sense of traditional America after Woodrow Wilson’s oppressive administration and collectivism during WWI.
● The real version of Coolidge’s “the business of America is business” quote.
● The surprising modernity of the 1920s and Coolidge himself.
● The tragic and untimely death of Coolidge’s son, and how it impacted Coolidge himself.
● Coolidge’s fear of where the unending expansion of government could lead.
● Who best fits the model of Coolidge today.

And much more. Click here to listen:

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(30 minutes long; 27.4MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this segment to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 5.14MB lo-fi edition. And for our earlier podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.)

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Transcript of our interview begins on the following page. Incidentally, I first interviewed Amity for an early segment of PJM Political, which ran on Sirius-XM satellite radio from 2007 through the end of 2010, not too long after The Forgotten Man was released. Fortunately, that episode is still online; Shlaes’ interview begins at about the 25:50 mark.

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