(Editor's note: This publication was updated in April 2010.)

Students today are often given a skewed account of the Great Depression of 1929-1941 that condemns free-market capitalism as the cause of, and promotes government intervention as the solution to, the economic hardships of the era. In this essay based on a popular lecture, Mackinac Center for Public Policy President Lawrence W. Reed debunks the conventional view and traces the central role that poor government policy played in fostering this legendary catastrophe.