LND NYC Branch Webinar: Preparing for War


Preparing for War: How the New Deal Helped America Join the Fight Against Fascism and Win World War II

A bicoastal dialogue featuring Kevin Baker (East) and Bob Leighninger (West) on Zoom

Wednesday, February 16, 2022, 8:00 ET/5:00 PT


It is often said that the New Deal didn’t end the Depression—the war did. But Baker and Leighninger contend that the opposite is the case. The many programs devised by the Roosevelt Administration to combat the Great Depression also provided the personnel, infrastructure, and experience that allowed the country to respond to the expansionist aims of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan swiftly and effectively, turning the tide in favor of the Allies and ultimately winning the war.

The sheer speed of the U.S. response is all the more telling when you consider that as late as 1938, the United States had the 17th largest army in the world, right behind Rumania.

To probe the connections between the New Deal, war preparedness, and the Depression, Kevin Baker will interview Bob Leighninger, who is writing a book on the topic. Together, they will explore these relationships, dive into the specifics, and query the transformation of America into a modern superpower.

Kevin Baker is a novelist, historian, and journalist. He has recently completed a book on the history of New York City baseball and is currently working on a cultural and political history of the United States between the wars, for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2017. He has written for many major periodicals and is a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine.


Bob Leighninger is a former professor of sociology at SUNY-Oswego and the past editor—for nearly 40 years—of the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare. He is the author of two books: Building Louisiana: The Legacy of the Public Works Administration and Long-Range Public Investment: The Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal. And he’s working on a third, focused on the theme of this evening’s discussion.

Event details

Date: Wed. Feb 16th, 2022

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New Deal Maps

Check out our latest map and guide to the work of the New Deal in Washington, D.C. It includes 500 New Deal sites in the District alone, highlighting 34 notable sites, and includes an inset map of the area around the National Mall which can be used for self-guided walking tours.

Take a look at our previous guides, equally comprehensive, covering key New Deal sites in San Francisco and New York City.