Senior fellow in economic history to give lecture at Purdue

March 8, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.  -  The 2010 Sears Lecture Series will feature Amity Shlaes as she discusses, "Roosevelt and Obama: Getting to Recovery." The lecture will be held at 7:30 p.m. March 23 in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall.

The theme for the 2010 Sears Lecture Series is "Presidential Leadership in Global Economic Crisis." All talks are free and open to the public.

The Sears Lecture Series is sponsored by the Department of History, which is housed in Purdue's College of Liberal Arts.

Presidents Obama and George W. Bush followed precedents from the New Deal when handling the current crisis. Yet, our nostalgia for the policies of the period is misplaced. In this talk, Shlaes reminds us that while President Roosevelt and his New Dealers did many good things, the government overall postponed recovery. Five errors from that period are in danger of being repeated today.

Shlaes is a senior fellow in economic history at the Council on Foreign Relations, a syndicated columnist at Bloomberg, and the author of the New York Times best-selling book, "The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression." She has written for the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal -- for whom she was an editorial board member -- as well as for the New Yorker, Fortune, National Review, The New Republic, and Foreign Affairs. In 2002, she was co-winner of the Frederic Bastiat Prize, a new international prize for free-market journalism. In 2003, she served as the J.P. Morgan Fellow for economics and finance at the American Academy in Berlin.

Shlaes has appeared on PBS's News Hours with Jim Lehrer, Comedy Central's The Daily Show, Fox News' Glenn Beck, ABC's Good Morning America, Charlie Rose, and CNBC's Kudlow and Kramer. She contributes to Public Radio International's Marketplace and appears frequently on Bloomberg radio.

"The Forgotten Man" is part of a three-volume history of the 20th century. It has been widely praised by such prominent figures as George F. Will, Harold Evans, Newt Gingrich, Arthur Levitt, Mark Helprin, Peggy Noonan, and Paul Volcker. The New York Times wrote that Shlaes "not only manages to keep you wide awake, she also sets your blood to boiling. Even if you don't always agree with her conclusions, she defines the debate over what we ought to do and gets you thinking constructively about the problems she identifies."

Shlaes graduated magna cum laude from Yale and studied at the Free University in Berlin on a DAAD fellowship following college. Yale named her to its list of most distinguished alumni, "Who's Been Blue." She lives with her family in New York.

"This series aims to help our audience make sense of America's situation in the worldwide downturn." said William Gray, a professor of history and event organizer. "What power do American leaders really have to shape economic outcomes here and abroad? How, in the past, have presidents sought to mitigate the effects of global economic challenges? Is the Obama administration breaking new ground here, or following in the path of its predecessors?"

Sears Lecture Series speakers, topics and dates include:

* David Painter, associate professor of history at Georgetown University, will present "The Moral Equivalent of War? American Presidents and the Oil Crises of the 1970s" at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (March 9) in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall.

* Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek, will present "Economic Leadership in a Time of Crisis: Then and Now" at 7:30 pm April 21 in Stewart Center's  Loeb Playhouse.

The biennial series is named for the late Purdue historian Louis Martin Sears, who was a faculty member in the then joint Department of History and Political Science from 1920 until his retirement in 1956. Sears specialized in diplomatic history and biography and was the author of numerous books. The lecture series bearing his name is alternately produced by the history and political science departments, in conjunction with Purdue Convocations.

Sources: Abby Eddy, Purdue Convocations director of marketing, 765-494-5045,
Will Gray, Associate Professor, Department of History, 765-418-5760,

Related Web sites:
Print quality photos available here: