There's no serious attempt at economic history — there's not a single table of figures — but the economic debates about the Depression and its causes are touched on in the opening chapters. There's much more depth to the social history, though that is mostly approached from the perspective of planners and programs; for the views of ordinary Americans, McElvaine draws heavily on the letters written to Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt. There's also a (fascinating to me) account of the Federal Theatre Project and the other "art" relief projects.
McElvaine also attempts to place the Depression in the broader currents of US history, with a particular focus on large-scale, long-term changes in attitudes and values. This sometimes seems over-simplistic, but does give his narrative a guiding framework: the only real awkwardness comes with attempts to link the Great Depression to current politics (the work first appeared in 1984 during Ronald Reagan's presidency; this 1993 edition adds only a new introduction).
Little background is assumed by The Great Depression — I had no problems following it despite my sketchy knowledge of United States history — and McElvaine's approach makes for easy reading. As well as making a fine introduction, it provides a basis for further more specialised reading.