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An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 5, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
The word "epic" in the subtitle is a tip-off that instead of a critical history of the American economy, this book is a celebration of it. Nothing wrong with that, especially when the tale's told breezily and accurately. In fact, Gordon (The Scarlet Woman of Wall Street) notes the many stumbles and the frequent foolishness and corruption that attended the nation's rise as an economic powerhouse. The larger story of success is, in fact, an extraordinary one. The trouble is that the American economy, like every other, bends much out of shape. It has always provided opportunity but always with too much inequality. A full history of the American economy would take this into consideration—in the past as well as the present, and Gordon's doesn't. Also, his book sometimes wanders off into irrelevant subjects, like the origins of the computer, but his grasp of the larger picture is sure and his prose bright. His chapter on Northern and Southern Civil War finances is a model of its kind. Those seeking an introduction to the general history of American economic power will find few better places to start, as long as they keep in mind that the nation's economy is not perfect, its benefits not unalloyed and its future domination of other economic powerhouses by no means assured.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gordon, a financial historian, tells the story of America's dynamic power, which is tied to its entrepreneurial culture and immense economic wealth. From the settlement at Jamestown (which was founded by a profit-seeking corporation) to the birth of the Internet, our history is replete with people who made America great with their hard work; ambition; ingenuity and, in the author's view, dumb luck. We learn that American power lies in its widely distributed wealth, the capacity of its people to create more wealth, and limitless imagination in developing new ways to use wealth productively. Others want to have what we have and adopt our ways because America is the global beacon of economic success. Engagingly tracing U.S. history from its earliest days to the tragedy of September 11, 2001, Gordon tells the tale of a crooked path of triumph and disaster, daring and timidity, and great individuals and fools. The author shows that ours is a case study in liberty. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
Of course, a book summarizing the entirety of American economic history is bound to read like a college textbook at times. The abundance of information in this book makes it hard to absorb much information in one sitting. However, this is probably inevitable due to the nature of the topic. Taking the subject that Mr. Gordon had to work with into consideration, I'd have to admit that he did a remarkable job in making "An Empire of Wealth" an enjoyable read for the average reader who may not be well-versed in history or economics.
If you are interested in the rise of American economic power, this is a must-read. Mr. Gordon's book is guaranteed to give you a solid foundation of understanding about the history of the United States, and may leave you with much appreciation for some of the great players in history who helped build this country to what it is today.
I wish John Gorden would revise it to include the current economic picture of America and all the global affects of the digital currencies like Bitcoin, the cause and effect of Brexit and the Asian metals stock piles.
I bought this and John R.T. Hughes' "American Economic History" at the same time, both in used condition. Hughes' book is actually a text book, and the most current edition runs over $150. I bought an older ed., (hey, it's not like they're rewriting history..., er, yet), as although the book is highly recommended, it is represented as much more in depth than Gordon's book. I paid around $15 for the older edition. I shall review it once I'm done with this book.
If you want to get an education on how America was formed, who made it happen and how things happened, get these two books. I know for my part they shall both be in my permanent library.
The best part of the book are the never ending bits of information that will make you say, "I didn't know that". Where did George Washington bank? Why was the Model-T car only painted black? How did Bill Gates get rich? The only criticism of the book is that it covers a lot of ground going from 1492 to 2004 in 460 pages. The section on the Great Depression was weak as was the economic events of the 1990's. Overall, John Steele Gordon's book is well worth your time and money.