The Historian's Wizard of Oz: Reading L. Frank Baum's Classic as a Political and Monetary Allegory

Front Cover
Ranjit S. Dighe
Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002 - 149 pages

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, as well as a brief history of the Populist movement.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

very informative book

User Review  - pennywiseknm - Overstock.com

This book isnt exactly what I expected but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. The reading is very indepth about the economic and political times of the late 1800s and doesnt relate as much to the Wizard ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Introduction The Colors of Money
If I Only Had a Brain A Primer on Gold Silver and the American Monetary System
5
Populism Will Put Them to Sleep A Short History of the Populist Movement of the 1890s
21
L Frank Baums The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with Annotations
35
Another FiatMoney Metaphor from The Marvelous Land of Oz
125
William Jennings Bryans Cross of Gold Speech
127
The Quantity Theory of Money
135
Bibliography
137
Index
141
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 139 - You come to us and tell us that the great cities are in favor of the gold standard; we reply that the great cities rest upon our broad and fertile prairies. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.
Page 36 - There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that, if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous, their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.
Page 135 - ... is as much a business man as his employer; the attorney in a country town is as much a business man as the corporation counsel in a great metropolis; the merchant at the crossroads store is as much a business man as the merchant of New York; the farmer who goes forth in the morning and toils all day, who begins in the spring and toils all summer, and...
Page 36 - Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests, and the toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand for a gold standard by saying to them : ' You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.
Page 133 - I WOULD be presumptuous, indeed, to present myself against the distinguished gentlemen to whom you have listened if this were a mere measuring of abilities; but this is not a contest between persons. The humblest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error.
Page 137 - I desire to ask him where, in law or in morals, he can find justification for not protecting the debtors when the act of 1873 was passed, if he now insists that we must protect the creditors.
Page 45 - It was Toto that made Dorothy laugh, and saved her from growing as gray as her other surroundings. Toto was not gray; he was a little black dog, with long silky hair and small black eyes that twinkled merrily on either side of his funny, wee nose.

About the author (2002)

RANJIT S. DIGHE is Assistant Professor of Economics at the State University of New York at Oswego. His specialty is American macroeconomic history, and he has written extensively on American labor markets between the world wars.

Bibliographic information