Annotations for Secret Gift : How One Man's Kindness--and a Trove of Letters--revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression


Baker & Taylor
The author explains how, after he discovered a cache of letters addressed to his grandfather, he realized that the man had taken out a classified ad shortly before Christmas in Depression-scarred Canton, Ohio, offering $10, no-strings-attached, to families in need, in a book that focuses on the profound effects the gifts had on their recipients.

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Baker & Taylor
The author investigates letters from strangers who responded to his grandfather's request for descriptions of their hardships in exchange for cash, learning about his grandfather's past and the sufferings of various families during the Depression.

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Baker & Taylor
The author's grandfather, Sam Stone, placed an ad in the Canton, OH, newspaper shortly before Christmas in 1933, offering cash gifts to seventy-five families in distress. Readers were asked to send letters describing their hardships to a benefactor calling himself Mr. B. Virdot. The author investigates a suitcase full of letters responding to these ads as he learns more about his grandfather's hidden past as well as the suffering and triumphs of strangers during the Great Depression. -- From publisher'sdescription.

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Baker & Taylor
The author's grandfather, Sam Stone, placed an ad in the Canton, OH, newspaper shortly before Christmas in 1933, offering cash gifts to seventy-five families in distress. Readers were asked to send letters describing their hardships to a benefactor calling himself Mr. B. Virdot. The author investigates a suitcase full of letters responding to these ads as he learns more about his grandfather's hidden past as well as the suffering and triumphs of strangers during the Great Depression. -- From publisher's description.

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Blackwell Publishing
An inspiring account of America at its worstùand Americans at their bestùwoven from the stories of Depression-era families who were helped by gifts from the author's generous and secretive grandfather

Shortly Before Christmas 1933 in Depression-scarred Canton, Ohio, a small newspaper ad offered cash gifts to seventy-five families in distress. Readers were asked to send letters describing their hardships to a benefactor calling himself Mr. B. Virdot. The author's grandfather Sam Stone was inspired to place this ad and help his fellow Cantonians as they prepared for the cruelest Christmas most of them would ever endure.

Moved by the stories of suffering and hope in the letters, which he discovered in a suitcase seventy-five years later, Ted Gup first set out to unveil the lives behind them, searching for records and relatives all over the country to flesh out the family sagas hinted at in those letters. From these sources, Gup has re-created the impact that B. Virdot's gift had on each family. Many people yearned for bread, coal, or other necessities, but others received money from B. Virdot for more fanciful itemsùa doll, say, or a toy horse. As Gup's investigations revealed, all these things had the power to turn people's lives aroundùeven to save them.

But as he uncovered the suffering and triumphs of dozens of strangers, Gup also learned that Sam Stone was far more complex than the lovable-retiree persona he'd always shown his grandson. Gup unearths deeply buried details about Sam's life from his impoverished, abusive upbringing to felonious efforts to hide his immigrant origins from U.S. officials that help explain why he felt such a strong affinity to strangers in need. Drawing on his unique find and his award-winning reportorial gifts, Ted Gup solves a singular family mystery even as he pulls away the veil of eight decades that separate us from the hardships that united America during the Depression.

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Penguin Putnam
An inspiring account of America at its worst-and Americans at their best-woven from the stories of Depression- era families who were helped by gifts from the author's generous and secretive grandfather.

Shortly before Christmas 1933 in Depression-scarred Canton, Ohio, a small newspaper ad offered $10, no strings attached, to 75 families in distress. Interested readers were asked to submit letters describing their hardships to a benefactor calling himself Mr. B. Virdot. The author's grandfather Sam Stone was inspired to place this ad and assist his fellow Cantonians as they prepared for the cruelest Christmas most of them would ever witness.

Moved by the tales of suffering and expressions of hope contained in the letters, which he discovered in a suitcase 75 years later, Ted Gup initially set out to unveil the lives behind them, searching for records and relatives all over the country who could help him flesh out the family sagas hinted at in those letters. From these sources, Gup has re-created the impact that Mr B. Virdot's gift had on each family. Many people yearned for bread, coal, or other necessities, but many others received money from B. Virdot for more fanciful items-a toy horse, say, or a set of encyclopedias. As Gup's investigations revealed, all these things had the power to turn people's lives around- even to save them.

But as he uncovered the suffering and triumphs of dozens of strangers, Gup also learned that Sam Stone was far more complex than the lovable- retiree persona he'd always shown his grandson. Gup unearths deeply buried details about Sam's life-from his impoverished, abusive upbringing to felonious efforts to hide his immigrant origins from U.S. officials-that help explain why he felt such a strong affinity to strangers in need. Drawing on his unique find and his award-winning reportorial gifts, Ted Gup solves a singular family mystery even while he pulls away the veil of eight decades that separate us from the hardships that united America during the Depression. In A Secret Gift, he weaves these revelations seamlessly into a tapestry of Depression-era America, which will fascinate and inspire in equal measure.

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Penguin Putnam

"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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