Saturday, June 4, 2022

Review of "The Tree Army: A Pictorial History of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942," by Stan Cohen

 Review of

The Tree Army: A Pictorial History of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942, by Stan Cohen, ISBN 0933126115

Five out of five stars

History of one of the best New Deal programs

 When Franklin Roosevelt assumed in presidency in 1933, the United States was in terrible economic shape. Unemployment was at roughly 25% with others underemployed and even people that were working had experienced a decline in wages. There was little demand for almost everything but the essentials, and something had to be done.

 The Roosevelt administration expanded existing programs and created many new ones in an attempt to uplift the country. As is the case with any rapid action by the federal government, some of those programs were more successful than others. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was one of the most effective and it served to train hundreds of thousands of men in skills that would be needed in order for the United States to win the Second World War.

 This is the story of the CCC, told mostly in pictures. Men signed up for a semi-military work program. They were housed in barracks, rousted out of bed at an early time, shuffled off to meals at the designated times and were assigned specific work details. What is not often pointed out about the CCC is that training the men in specific skills was also a part of their regimen. Many of the men had limited schooling and this was an opportunity to receive valuable training, much of which was used in their subsequent military experience.

 Many of the parks, trails, buildings and erosion control projects that the CCC created are still in use today. The CCC is an example of infrastructure and human investment by the federal government that has reaped dividends several times that of the original expenditure. It is a government agency that should be the subject of more study.

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