The Grand Design, 1949

Dos Passos’s literary response to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, The Grand Design critiques the gargantuan growth of bureaucracy in Washington during the Great Depression and World War II. The satiric novel conveys the author’s frustration with federal overreach and hollow rhetoric that sells it to the people.

“War is a time of Caesars,” reads The Grand Design. Dos Passos laments the death of idealistic, intelligent enterprises at the desks of elitist administrators. After witnessing the Spanish Civil War claim so many well-intentioned men, he advises caution for America’s New Dealers: “Some things we have learned, but not enough; there is more to learn. Today we must learn to found again in freedom our republic.”

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