Books That Inspire 2011

A Secret Gift: How One Man’s Kindness -- and a Trove of Letters -- Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression
Ted Gup

All my life I have been drawn to first-person accounts of historical events, and A Secret Gift is a perfect example of what I find so compelling. When the author is presented with a suitcase of his grandfather's papers, he has to sift through and find meaning from a seemingly random pile of old checks and letters. Once he is able to make sense of the collection, though, he realizes it tells a complex and moving story about his family and their hometown during the Great Depression. This book is not about financial policies that led to the collapse. It’s about the people who lived through it, the choices they made to survive, their love for their children. Although the descriptions of life during that time are bleak, it is also inspiring to see how people managed to keep their dignity and compassion alive, how a strong community can sustain us, given the chance.

Susannah B. Livingood
Assistant Director
Institutional Research and Reporting