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American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900 Paperback – October 4, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“A superb new history. . . . A big, brash narrative.”
“A first-rate overview of one of the most important periods in American history. . . . Brands is a terrific writer who commands his material, handles this sprawling, complicated story with authority and panache.”
—The New York Times
“Colorful. . . . Sweeping. . . . Brands masterfully chronicles this transformation. . . . His account serves admirably as a survey history of Gilded Age America.”
—The Plain Dealer
“An excellent book. . . . Brands is a smart, lively writer. . . . He demonstrates, as the best historians do, that past is prologue.”
—The Dallas Morning News
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Top Customer Reviews
The tone is neither elegiac nor revisionist. The author deals in a relatively straightforward manner with both the positive aspects of the booming American economy and the seamier sides, such as racial tensions, corruption and labor conflict.
A perusal of the books cited gave me the impression that "American Colossus" is not based on either the latest scholarship or any fresh archival work. For example, the narration of Jay Gould's attempt to corner the gold market is almost exclusively based on the printed proceedings of a congressional investigation. And for a more compelling treatment of John Wesley Harding, I recommend checking out Simon Schama's chapter "American Plenty" in his "...Read more ›
The book is written in a popular, narrative style with little technical discussion or statistics. Yet the book is well-informed, thorough, and balanced. It gave me an overview and refresher on its era in a good broad-based account.
In some respects, the book works less well. With its accessibility, the book tends to be thin on economic issues. As a result, the discussions of the attempt of financiers to corner the gold market early in the Grant administration, the panics of 1873 and 1893, and the controversy over free silver both lack detail and are hard to follow in specifics. Although he mentions it at the beginning and end of the book, Brands is not as clear as he might be about the effect of the lack of central bank in the United States between Andrew Jackson's destruction of the Second Bank of the United States and Woodrow Wilson's creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913. This lack was the source of much of the instability he describes.Read more ›
At first I thought that Brands was a simple Marxist trying to defame Capitalism as much as he could. I personally think this would be a misreading of his attempt at the Gilded Age. Brands does an excellent job of weaving two different sets of voices throughout his book. He weaves the narratives and motives of great capitalists and politicians who dominated the American zeitgeist, ranging from JP Morgan to Boss Tweed to President Grant, to a young, raging Theodore Roosevelt. The second voice he brings to the table are voices of people none of us have ever heard of, the voices of the alien, the poor, the community organizer, and the social commentator (most often journalists). These people offer a great and lost insight into the dark underbelly of the American experiment, and the disenfranchising nature of Capitalism.
I am taking one star away from Brands, not because the scope of the book is too large; but, given the scope of the book, chopping up certain narratives and leaving them to be picked up later, for dramatic effect, was distracting, confusing, and often unhelpful. Other than that it is a great read.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting read with tons of facts, but pretty dry. Could have been 1/3 less in length. So often I'd read something that might be very interesting and wonder why the author... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Kevin Curtis
great read..H W Brands makes history interesting. Reads like a novel. Highly recommended.5 starsPublished 6 days ago by Jim Crue
We often associate the Gilded Age, and the period leading up to it, with tycoons like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and a few other high rollers. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Roderick S. Haynes
H.W. Brands has emerged as one of the leading author historians detailing the 19th century. His articulate understanding of not only biographical subjects, such as Ulysses Grant,... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Pugwash
In this monograph, historian and educator H.W. Brands seeks to present an interpretation of the post-Civil War era America all the way to 1900. Read morePublished 5 months ago by gloine36
Couldn't put this book down! It covers almost every noteworthy event in the political, economical, and military history of the us in the second half of the 19th century. Read morePublished 6 months ago by M. small