I think of "Violins and Shovels" as a salutary book. It is intended for young readers—but I think it could be read profitably by older ones who have neither the time nor the inclination to plow through the records [of the W.P.A. Arts Projects] in great detail. All will learn that, for a time, anyway, no government in history ever did what the Roosevelt Administration did: Make it possible for artists to live—neither well nor ill but in reasonable comfort, so that they might tend their arts and bring them to flower.
Readers will learn once more of the fundamental hostility toward the arts of legislatures and businesses…. And they will learn exactly how little is required for an artist to survive and work.
It is Meltzer's belief—I share it with him—that what Federal One did was to insure the survival of an entire generation of talented people….
Gilbert Millstein, in his review of "Violins and Shovels: The WPA Arts Projects," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1976 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), November 14, 1976. p. 42.