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Books that Shaped Work in America

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Book Recommendation

Elaine L. Chao

Elaine L. Chao
Former Secretary of Labor

The following recommendations are books written for the general public describing events and ideas that have altered the way we work and how jobs are created in our country:

Amity Shlaes, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression (2007). This is a fascinating account of the Great Depression, one of the most catastrophic events for American workers in history. It describes the economic forces and government policies that helped create and prolong the Depression, as well as the leaders and policymakers behind these epic events. It also provides a moving tribute to the indomitable American spirit through stories of average people using ingenuity and fortitude to cope with the Depression's devastating impact.

W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis (1982) (originally titled Quality, Productivity and Competitive Position). Deming was a true workplace innovator who helped change industrial practices in the U.S. for the better—especially for workers—by advocating a focus on quality, labor management cooperation and on-the-job training, among other things. This is his best-known work. In it, Deming describes his research and includes several case studies that illustrate how his methods helped turn around troubled enterprises and generated more jobs for workers as a result.

Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson(1979) (2nd edition). How are jobs created, what causes unemployment and what are the laws of supply and demand that drive economic growth and job creation? Many people are interested in learning more about these issues, but are daunted by the technical explanations that sometimes accompany them. That's not the case with this book. It's filled with short, witty, readable essays and stories that are very approachable, which is one of the reasons it has sold more than a million copies and has been translated into 10 languages.

Elaine L. Chao was the 24th U.S. Secretary of Labor, serving from 2001 to 2009.

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