A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness--and a Trove of Letters--Revealed the Hidden History of t he Great Depression

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"A wonderful reminder that economic hardship can bring suffering but can also foster compassion and community." -The Boston Globe

In hard economic times like these, readers will find bestselling author Ted Gup's unique book uplifting as well as captivating. Inside a suitcase kept in his mother's attic, Gup discovered letters written to his grandfather in response to an ad placed in a Canton, Ohio, newspaper in 1933 that offered cash to seventy-five families facing a devastating Christmas. The author travels coast to coast to unveil the lives behind the letters, describing a range of hardships and recreating in his research the hopes and suffering of Depression-era Americans, even as he uncovers the secret life led by the grandfather he thought he knew.

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Shortly before Christmas 1933 in Depression-scarred Canton, Ohio, a newspaper ad offered $10 to 75 families in distress. Interested readers were asked to submit letters describing their hardships to a benefactor calling himself Mr. B. Virdot. In actuality, he was Sam Stone, the author's grandfather.

Ted Gup discovered the letters in a suitcase 75 years later and was so moved by the tales of suffering and expressions of hope that he set out to unveil the lives behind them. The author also unearthed deeply buried details about his grandfather's life -- from his impoverished, abusive upbringing to his felonious efforts to hide his immigrant status from U.S. officials -- that explain why he felt such a strong affinity to strangers in need.

About the Author:

Ted Gup is the author of the bestseller The Book of Honor and of Nation of Secrets. He is a professor and chair of the journalism department at Emerson College. A former investigative reporter for The Washington Post and Time, he has also written for The New York Times, Newsweek, GQ, Slate, and Salon.com.

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