This chapter focuses on the 1930s, a time when the poor had been the nation's most visible citizens, and Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal had set out to relieve their suffering, to string beneath all Americans a social safety net, and to curb the worst imbalances of wealth and power. A decade later, World War II and the United States' global ascendancy ended the Great Depression and ushered in a new era of prosperity. Overnight, it seemed, America had become a nation of upwardly mobile suburbanites, living in comfortable single-family homes financed by GI loans and enjoying all of the conveniences of a burgeoning consumer economy. At the same time, the Cold War stifled dissent in the name of national security and choked off the politics of class.
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