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How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country, from the Pilgrims to the Present Paperback – August 23, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Don't be misled by this book's subtitle: rather than a work of history, it's a work of ideology cross-dressing as history. Its value lies in its lively polemic rather than its claims to novelty or historical depth. DiLorenzo (The Real Lincoln) aims to counteract what he believes is the "anticapitalist mentality" among other historians by showing how capitalism has permeated American history since the Pilgrims, how the role of marketplace entrepreneurs has been lost to historical view, and how all government regulation has been injurious to the national welfare. These arguments he presents via brief sketches of some of the major eras of the nation's history. He argues, for example, that the monopolistic robber barons are incorrectly made to stand in for their era's other forgotten great entrepreneurs, and that it wasn't the excesses of the 1920s that caused the Great Depression but rather Herbert Hoover's mild pre-crash attempts at government regulation. What's beguiling is DiLorenzo's single-mindedness. The book ought to prove bracing for those similarly minded and to those of contrary views whose arguments have grown flaccid for want of energetic attack. But the author's notes and bibliography give the game away. There are scarcely any references to works of history. Instead, he cites the great theorists of capitalism, such as Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. There's nothing wrong with that, but it leads one to suspect that the book aims less to enrich historical understanding than to score points. (On sale Aug. 10)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Extolling free markets and upbraiding government intervention, economist DiLorenzo offers a tour of American economic history that is intended to counter the anticapitalist ideas embedded in best-sellers such as Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed (2001) and Michael Moore's Downsize This! (1997). While calling these anecdote- and emotion-driven tomes utter economic nonsense, DiLorenzo does acknowledge their influence. Most people, to the extent they understand the principles of free markets, are suspicious of them, citing robber barons, petroleum trusts, and the Great Depression. Inveighing against "myths" that the failures of capitalism were the cause of such historical episodes, DiLorenzo attacks the political response to them as pernicious to consumers, who, he argues, ultimately pay for price controls, regulations, subsidies, and government corporations. To the author's understandable frustration, these types of government intervention accumulate decade after decade, with "political entrepreneurs" almost always overpowering the ability of the market to operate freely. DiLorenzo's presentation challenges widespread beliefs about economic history. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Though I have questions about some of Dilorenzo’s theories, I was not turned off by them. To the contrary, I finished “How Capitalism Saved America” and then immediately bought his book, “The Problem with Socialism.” I highly recommend both books. (See my upcoming review of “The Problem with Socialism.”)
Free Markets are cooperative. Fair exchange. Non-coerced. Suppliers competing for customers. Productive. Creative. Choice. Trade offs. Growing the pie. Protagonistic.
Capitalism is a pejorative dreamed up by Marx and applied to a system Marx wanted to crush. Competitive. Compulsory. Dog eat dog. Exploitative. Fixed pie, zero sum. Antagonistic. That does not in any way describe the economic system of free people.
I consistently teach Free Markets. I shun the word capitalism.
But... this book is exactly right for teaching how Free Markets built and saved America. So I use it for high school history. Especially good for the history of the "Progressive movement".
Ch 6: How Free Markets enriched the working class
Ch 7: The truth about "robber barons" (captains of industry)
Ch 8: Antitrust myths
Ch 10: How the New Deal crippled Free markets
Free markets. Free markets.
DiLorenzo gets everything right. Using this for instruction, I first do a great deal on the totalitarian projects of the 20th century, then I do economics, and then this book.
Teens love this book.
The title is a little misleading because it is not a history of our country but a history of capitalism in our country. The author lays out the aurguments in favor of laissez faire capitalism which requires no interference from govenment and leaves the people free to conduct buisness in the ways that they see fit and relies on the market to regulate business according to supply and demand and consumer choices. Thomas DiLorenzo shows how a lot of what is said about capitalsim and how it works is myth while explaining how in most cases the opposite is true. Capitalism actually raises the standards of living for everyone and while the rich do get richer with capitalism, the poor get richer faster and if left untainted for long enough capitalism has the potential to eliminate poverty.
After reading this book most of the questions I had about capitalsim had been answered or at least I was pointed in the direction of the answers and I felt confident with the subject. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the subject.