Yesterday's Nobel prize was awarded to three economists focusing on banking, and Ben Bernanke, at least, did, as far as I know, some groundbreaking research on the causes of the great depression.

I still have vivid memories of my grandparents telling me about the hardships of that time.

Question: Which popular science book should I read to understand the causes of the great depression better? I am particularly interested in a book that macroeconomists of different aisles acclaim.

PS: I do know only very little about macroeconomics or banking.

Here is a similar but distinct question on financial crises in general.

  • $\begingroup$ what do you mean by macroeconomists of different aisles? Macroeconomics is a science... there arent aisles $\endgroup$
    – 1muflon1
    Oct 11, 2022 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ @1muflon1, wouldn't it be fair to consider these groups as aisles en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saltwater_and_freshwater_economics (not being a native speaker) $\endgroup$
    – Arne
    Oct 11, 2022 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ those are historical examples, plus they are about methodological differences not different politics. For example, in first half of last century in physics there was Newtonian and Relativistic camp until observation of mercury lead to rejection of Newtonian physics. Or currently in physics there is dark matter and modified Newtonian dynamics camp (although most physicists favor dark matter). These are not really aisles (which typically implies political differences) rather in science there are always disagreements when data are not sufficient to resolve them and that allows $\endgroup$
    – 1muflon1
    Oct 11, 2022 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ Different groups of scientists to have different theories. However, these are eventually resolved by data. $\endgroup$
    – 1muflon1
    Oct 11, 2022 at 21:46

1 Answer 1


Generally considered excellent scholarship on Great Depression can be found in books:

  • Essays on the Great Depression by Bernanke
  • Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the Uses-and Misuses-of History by Eichengreen
  • The General Theory by Keynes
  • Lessons of Great Depression by Temin
  • Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression by Eichengreen
  • A Monetary History of the United States by Schwartz and Friedman
  • The Ascent of Money by Ferguson

Some of the books are little bit academical but still accessible to layman. Some of the books are not all about just Great Depression. For example, the Hall of Mirrors book devotes great deal of time to discussion of Great Recession of 2008/9. Ferguson spends only little time on it but you asked also for source that discuses recessions more generally. Keynes book is dated at this point so take it with this caveat in mind, also monetary history of US is getting bit dated now. However, both of the books were extremely influential and offer a great context for the modern scholarship.

All of the above books are from mainstream economists (that is economists that follow the sort of economics taught at majority of universities and at a very top universities), of course some of the above economists have different ideas but there aren't really aisles in a sense of political aisles in mainstream macro.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.