Memories of the Great Depression: My Personal Memories by Jack Daniels is a fascinating look inside one young man’s life growing up from 1924-1942. At first, it’s hard to read and hard to follow as the author seems to literally jump from memory to memory. There is no transition or cohesiveness to his memories as a very young child. It’s more like a stream-of-consciousness listing for the first chapter or two. Also, although the first chapter is entitled “Birth to Two”, the stories he tells don’t actually seem to be anything younger than age two, and I know very few people who, at the age of 78, can remember something that happened at age two or three. In fact, I don’t know anyone at the age of 40 who can remember much at such a young age. That’s fine; I’m just bothered by the inconsistency of the title.
Once past the first couple of chapters, the book is a quick and interesting read. Eighteen years of life condensed into 100 pages. The narration does sometimes bounce around so it’s difficult to know who or when the author is talking about, but those occasions don’t happen often enough to make this hard to read. Many times, he clears up something confusing later in the book.
I have a great interest in living history, so I enjoyed reading this first-hand account of the Depression. I’ve never been surrounded by wealth, so the tales of extreme poverty weren’t that hard for me to comprehend. The difference in the value of money and things like cars is what really struck me. The author mentions that his brother-in-law bought a nine-year-old car for $125 – and then made monthly payments on it.
This book is a great history lesson, but I wouldn’t recommend it for teens unless a parent reads it first to determine if it’s suitable for each child. There are several incidents that, although mentioned briefly, may be “too much information” for some people.
I received a complimentary copy of Memories of the Great Depression as a member of the Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team. Visit www.dorrancebookstore.com to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team.