Shortfall: Family Secrets, Financial Collapse, and a Hidden History of American Banking

New Pr. Oct. 2017. 352p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781620973035. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781620973042. ECON
OrangeReviewStarSet in the early 1900s in the American West, this captivating true story centers on Echols's (Barbra Streisand Chair of Contemporary Gender Studies, Univ. of Southern California; Scars of Sweet Paradise) grandfather and his family's dramatic rise and fall associated with the building and loan industry during the Great Depression. Unlike the happy ending in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, this story is more complex, filled with family secrets, schemes, and swindles. Surprisingly similar to many movies of the time that depict wealthy individuals engaging in extravagant spending and lifestyles, Echols's relatives actually enjoyed such a life. The title "shortfall" has a double meaning and can allude to character deficits and corrupted moral values. Echols's style is honest and gripping, and readers will be hooked from start to finish as the story unfolds with discoveries of letters and memorabilia in the family home and concludes with the question of whether the family hid treasures and monies yet to be uncovered. Echols's extensive research efforts are reflected in the many photos, primary documents, and notes.
VERDICT Because of its historical accuracy, this book provides many insights about American culture and economy and is therefore recommended for both public and academic collections.

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