The Historian's Wizard Of Oz: Reading L. Frank Baum's Classic As A Political And Monetary Allegory

Paperback | June 1, 2002

EditorRanjit S. DighebyRanjit S. Dighe

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The Historian's Wizard of Oz synthesizes four decades of scholarly interpretations of L. Frank Baum's classic children's novel as an allegory of the Gilded Age political economy and a comment on the gold standard. The heart of the book is an annotated version of The Wizard of Oz that highlights the possible political and monetary symbolism in the book by relating characters, settings, and incidents in it to the historical events and figures of the 1890s, the decade in which Baum wrote his story. Dighe simultaneously values the leading political interpretations of Oz as useful and creative teaching tools, and consolidates them in a sympathetic fashion; yet he rejects the commonly held, and by now well-debunked, view that those interpretations reflect Baum's likely motivations in writing the book. The result is a unique way for readers to acquaint themselves with a classic of children's literature that is a bit different and darker than the better-known film version. Students of history and economics will find two great stories: the dramatic rise and fall of monetary populism and William Jennings Bryan and the original rendering of a childhood story that they know and love. This study draws on several worthy versions of the Oz-as-Populist-parable thesis, but it also separates the reading of Baum's book in this manner from Baum's original intentions. Despite an incongruence with Baum's intent, reading the story as a parable continues to provide a remarkable window into the historical events of the 1890s and, thus, constitutes a tremendous teaching tool for historians, economists, and political scientists. Dighe also includes a primer on gold, silver, and the American monetary system, aswell as a brief history of the Populist movement.

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The Historian's Wizard of Oz synthesizes four decades of scholarly interpretations of L. Frank Baum's classic children's novel as an allegory of the Gilded Age political economy and a comment on the gold standard. The heart of the book is an annotated version of The Wizard of Oz that highlights the possible political and monetary symbo...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:184 pages, 9.16 × 6.08 × 0.55 inPublished:June 1, 2002Publisher:Praeger PublishersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0275974197

ISBN - 13:9780275974190

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"Ranjit Dighe's new book will be of immense interest to scholars seeking to understand Baum and his classic, and to teachers who wish to use Baum's story as a platform for discussing one of the crucial periods in American political and economic history. Although written in a straightforward and engaging style, the book is based on an impressive understanding of the primary and secondary sources. Professor Dighe has chosen judiciously among conflicting interpretations, developed new interpretations of his own, and dealt sensitively with the thorny issue of Baum's intentions. The Historian's Wizard of Oz will be the definitive work for a long time to come."-Hugh Rockoff Professor of Economics Rutgers University