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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Economics and history perfectly mixed
Dr. Wright's presentation of the nation's first national debt is both engrossing and informative. Perhaps it is his background as an historian, but regardless, his presentation of economics is straightforward and makes for a good read from the layperson's point of view.

Wright shows Alexander Hamilton as the genius that he truly was. While critics of Hamilton...
Published on July 16, 2008 by Dennis S. Edwards

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars unreadable
This reads like propaganda. The author has the annoying habit of supporting his argument with anecdotes, so every other paragraph you get cherry-picked quotes from the 18th or 19th century which "prove" the author's point (and also demonstrate how widely-read the author is). To me this type of writing is unbearable. You may disagree, but I would suggest that before you...
Published on August 2, 2012 by Michael Chesser


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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Economics and history perfectly mixed, July 16, 2008
This review is from: One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton, Jefferson, and the History of What We Owe (Hardcover)
Dr. Wright's presentation of the nation's first national debt is both engrossing and informative. Perhaps it is his background as an historian, but regardless, his presentation of economics is straightforward and makes for a good read from the layperson's point of view.

Wright shows Alexander Hamilton as the genius that he truly was. While critics of Hamilton tend to focus on his behind-the-scenes machinations during the 1800 election, Wright allows Hamilton's financial wizardry (which should be this founder's true legacy) to shine. Indeed, Hamilton grasped that a national debt and the eventual assumption of states' debts was necessary not only for the new nation to survive practically, but to maintain its international public credit.

I would recommend reading this book in concert with John Miller's biography on Alexander Hamilton, Portrait in Paradox. Both authors show that Hamilton was well ahead of his time.

The chapters read easily, with an early focus on the Dutch and English international finance models of the early and late 18th century. The chapter entitled "Life," which concentrates on a few individual Virgina debt holders, is also engrossing. Wright spotlights the stories of a few individual patriots to show that these debtholders were just as vital to the nation, with their willingness to take a chance on the early United States, as was both France and Holland in their initial financing of the War of Independence.

All in all, a great read.

Dr. Dennis Edwards
Associate Professor of Economics
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars easy and accessable, June 26, 2008
This review is from: One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton, Jefferson, and the History of What We Owe (Hardcover)
Anyone intersted in US history will enjoy this book, it was an easy read on what I thought would be a complicated subject.

The author keeps the subject interesting by mixing the "big picture" of international finance with political skullduggery at home and shines more light on the much maligned Alexander Hamilton's role in safeguarding America's first years.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A subject matter to which many more should be privy, June 17, 2008
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This review is from: One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton, Jefferson, and the History of What We Owe (Hardcover)
Why do governments go into debt ? How do they pay for it ? Is that debt a good thing or a bad thing; that is to say, is a national debt a blessing or a curse ? Just what was the breakdown and nature of America's first national debt ? These are just some of the questions answered in Robert Wright's latest work.
It would not be bad bet to wager that few of us in the United States know how and why we incurred our first national debt. Maybe more importantly, even fewer of us probably realize just how much there is to contrast between now and then. Just after the adoption of our Constitution, our debt became, under the care and genius of a young Alexander Hamilton, a relatively temporary and useful tool for putting the credit of the United States on solid footing with Europe; while simultaneously serving as a a positive example to our merchants and businessmen, on whom so much of our finances were dependent. Today, our debt would appear to be nothing more than something for career politicans to continually run up for the sake of votes. Indeed, in today's modern American Nanny State, our so-called care takers seem to have no thought to paying the debt down, nevermind off. A far cry from some 200 years ago ! In Robert Wright's new book, such unfortunate differencees between now and then become all too clear.
There is even something for the more socially minded Historian in Wright's breakdown of those who were our nation's very first creditors. He sheds light on just who these first true patriots were.
In sum, this is a well written book on a very important subject matter.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting history of the early US national debt, April 6, 2012
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This review is from: One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton, Jefferson, and the History of What We Owe (Hardcover)
With all of the talk these days of the size of the US national debt it is nice to read a cogent history of how the US handled the national debt that originated from the Revolutionary War and the period up to 1836. Why stop in 1836 - that was when the US paid off its debt and for the first and last time became debt free. The book covers all aspects of this debt, who loaned the US colonies money, who was paid in the continentals that became a major part of the debt, who bought US bonds and how did the US raise the money to pay off the debt. The book also addresses why some nations can progress to prosperity, while others do not. All are subjects of this careful, academic, but charmingly written book. Professor Wright has a nice colloquial style that makes a highly academic subject very readable.

The book concentrates on Alexander Hamilton, the first Sec. of the Treasury and his financial system, a system that laid the financial underpinnings of the US and led to the elimination of its first national debt. The question of taxation is covered as well as the formation of the first and second banks of the United States. While a history of debt, the book does not neglect our current debt crisis. The last chapter describes how our current debt is not only so immensely larger than previous debt, but how it is different and infinitely more dangerous. The book ends with an appendix of 47 pages of tables and graphs describing sources of revenue and who held the debt prior to 1836.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Government Debt in the beginning vs NOW!, January 22, 2012
This review is from: One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton, Jefferson, and the History of What We Owe (Hardcover)
At times, this book became ponderous to read, but overall it was both enjoyable and very informative. It describes how our country financed its creation and how the early founding fathers through the administration of Andrew Jackson managed and sometimes mismanged the U.S. finances. We as a nation need to remember the lessons of thrift and controlling public spending and borrowing in the 21st century.
Why have the voters not elected more true patriots to Congress in the 21st century, when we need them most. I am referring to tea party types who would vote to decrease the size of the federal government, fire federal employees and terminate federal programs?
Hamilton offered us : an adequate supply of cash with the creation of the first Bank of the United States, a stable unit of account--the dollar, low interest rates, low taxes, and security of life, liberty, and property. And there existed in the 1790's entreprenurial gusto and economic opportunity aplenty in the inhabitants of the early united states. Despite Jefferson and Madison's fears, it was Hamilton's economic plan that worked well and breathed life into the new country! [p151]
I also agree with the Dr. Wright's idea of the 'development diamond' The author described the development diamond as being : the Constitution of 1787, the first national debt paid off in 1834, the financial system the first and second Banks of the United States, the various entrepreneurs and the rise of professional business manangers that spurred American economic growth from 1780-1857.
Terry Jennrich
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5.0 out of 5 stars Things we should all know., October 5, 2012
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J. Reid (Spotsylvania, VA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton, Jefferson, and the History of What We Owe (Hardcover)
This book should be the basis of a high school senior class in economics. The math and the history would be beneficial to all rising adults. (It wouldn't hurt the rest off the population that call themselves adults either.)
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, June 3, 2008
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J. Terry "readers choice" (New York, New York, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton, Jefferson, and the History of What We Owe (Hardcover)
This book provides rare insight into the financial foundations of the US economy. Supporting data, trends, and documentation add additional color to this thoughtful commentary on early american economic history. This obviously knowledgeable author writes in a very readeable style. The book was fantastically insightful.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wrght's financial genius hits another homerun, March 22, 2008
This review is from: One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton, Jefferson, and the History of What We Owe (Hardcover)
Bob Wright's tenth book proves once again his keen ability to link our economic history to present trends. In these times of economic instability, one owes it to oneself to become educated. This does not mean education in regard to the current and near future "guesses" of what may come financially, but more importantly on how we have arrived here.
A must read. Regards... Michael W. Vasta
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars unreadable, August 2, 2012
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Michael Chesser (AIKEN, SC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton, Jefferson, and the History of What We Owe (Hardcover)
This reads like propaganda. The author has the annoying habit of supporting his argument with anecdotes, so every other paragraph you get cherry-picked quotes from the 18th or 19th century which "prove" the author's point (and also demonstrate how widely-read the author is). To me this type of writing is unbearable. You may disagree, but I would suggest that before you buy, you at least use the page-preview capability to see if this writing is for you. For an example of fine writing see L. Ahamed.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, February 18, 2013
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I was mislead into buying this book. Considering all that's happening these days with the national debt, I wanted to learn about why the national debt was created. That's how this book was advertised. Instead, I found a tedious tome that dedicated 20% to my interest and 80% to minute trivia of the American history that surrounded the creation of the national debt. I got about 1/3 through the Kindle version and archived it, never to be opened again. Wish I could find a nice synopsis about the history of the national debt.
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One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton, Jefferson, and the History of What We Owe
One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton, Jefferson, and the History of What We Owe by Robert E. Wright (Hardcover - February 20, 2008)
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