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From the legendary former Fed Chairman and the acclaimed Economist writer and historian, the full, epic story of America's evolution from a small patchwork of threadbare colonies to the most powerful engine of wealth and innovation the world has ever seen. Shortlisted for the 2018 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award From even the start of his fabled From the legendary former Fed Chairman and the acclaimed Economist writer and historian, the full, epic story of America's evolution from a small patchwork of threadbare colonies to the most powerful engine of wealth and innovation the world has ever seen. Shortlisted for the 2018 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award From even the start of his fabled career, Alan Greenspan was duly famous for his deep understanding of even the most arcane corners of the American economy, and his restless curiosity to know even more. To the extent possible, he has made a science of understanding how the US economy works almost as a living organism--how it grows and changes, surges and stalls. He has made a particular study of the question of productivity growth, at the heart of which is the riddle of innovation. Where does innovation come from, and how does it spread through a society? And why do some eras see the fruits of innovation spread more democratically, and others, including our own, see the opposite? In Capitalism in America, Greenspan distills a lifetime of grappling with these questions into a thrilling and profound master reckoning with the decisive drivers of the US economy over the course of its history. In partnership with the celebrated Economist journalist and historian Adrian Wooldridge, he unfolds a tale involving vast landscapes, titanic figures, triumphant breakthroughs, enlightenment ideals as well as terrible moral failings. Every crucial debate is here--from the role of slavery in the antebellum Southern economy to the real impact of FDR's New Deal to America's violent mood swings in its openness to global trade and its impact. But to read Capitalism in America is above all to be stirred deeply by the extraordinary productive energies unleashed by millions of ordinary Americans that have driven this country to unprecedented heights of power and prosperity. At heart, the authors argue, America's genius has been its unique tolerance for the effects of creative destruction, the ceaseless churn of the old giving way to the new, driven by new people and new ideas. Often messy and painful, creative destruction has also lifted almost all Americans to standards of living unimaginable to even the wealthiest citizens of the world a few generations past. A sense of justice and human decency demands that those who bear the brunt of the pain of change be protected, but America has always accepted more pain for more gain, and its vaunted rise cannot otherwise be understood, or its challenges faced, without recognizing this legacy. For now, in our time, productivity growth has stalled again, stirring up the populist furies. There's no better moment to apply the lessons of history to the most pressing question we face, that of whether the United States will preserve its preeminence, or see its leadership pass to other, inevitably less democratic powers.


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From the legendary former Fed Chairman and the acclaimed Economist writer and historian, the full, epic story of America's evolution from a small patchwork of threadbare colonies to the most powerful engine of wealth and innovation the world has ever seen. Shortlisted for the 2018 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award From even the start of his fabled From the legendary former Fed Chairman and the acclaimed Economist writer and historian, the full, epic story of America's evolution from a small patchwork of threadbare colonies to the most powerful engine of wealth and innovation the world has ever seen. Shortlisted for the 2018 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award From even the start of his fabled career, Alan Greenspan was duly famous for his deep understanding of even the most arcane corners of the American economy, and his restless curiosity to know even more. To the extent possible, he has made a science of understanding how the US economy works almost as a living organism--how it grows and changes, surges and stalls. He has made a particular study of the question of productivity growth, at the heart of which is the riddle of innovation. Where does innovation come from, and how does it spread through a society? And why do some eras see the fruits of innovation spread more democratically, and others, including our own, see the opposite? In Capitalism in America, Greenspan distills a lifetime of grappling with these questions into a thrilling and profound master reckoning with the decisive drivers of the US economy over the course of its history. In partnership with the celebrated Economist journalist and historian Adrian Wooldridge, he unfolds a tale involving vast landscapes, titanic figures, triumphant breakthroughs, enlightenment ideals as well as terrible moral failings. Every crucial debate is here--from the role of slavery in the antebellum Southern economy to the real impact of FDR's New Deal to America's violent mood swings in its openness to global trade and its impact. But to read Capitalism in America is above all to be stirred deeply by the extraordinary productive energies unleashed by millions of ordinary Americans that have driven this country to unprecedented heights of power and prosperity. At heart, the authors argue, America's genius has been its unique tolerance for the effects of creative destruction, the ceaseless churn of the old giving way to the new, driven by new people and new ideas. Often messy and painful, creative destruction has also lifted almost all Americans to standards of living unimaginable to even the wealthiest citizens of the world a few generations past. A sense of justice and human decency demands that those who bear the brunt of the pain of change be protected, but America has always accepted more pain for more gain, and its vaunted rise cannot otherwise be understood, or its challenges faced, without recognizing this legacy. For now, in our time, productivity growth has stalled again, stirring up the populist furies. There's no better moment to apply the lessons of history to the most pressing question we face, that of whether the United States will preserve its preeminence, or see its leadership pass to other, inevitably less democratic powers.

30 review for Capitalism in America: A History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Scott Nvenue

    I grabbed this book on an impulse at the library. It was surprisingly entertaining and informative. Written by the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, it had the potential to be a dense boring work of economic minutiae. However, it is written in a very readable and enjoyable prose. For the most part, the economic concepts described in the book are presented such that an average reader can understand what is being discussed. The title of the book is apropos. Whereas most history books are I grabbed this book on an impulse at the library. It was surprisingly entertaining and informative. Written by the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, it had the potential to be a dense boring work of economic minutiae. However, it is written in a very readable and enjoyable prose. For the most part, the economic concepts described in the book are presented such that an average reader can understand what is being discussed. The title of the book is apropos. Whereas most history books are concerned with political history, this book is concerned with the economic history of the United States. It covers such topics as: the economic development of the early colonies; the economic effects of westward expansion; the development of transportation (particularly canals,railroads, roads, cars, trucks and railroads); the rise of titans like Carnegie, Morgan, Rockefeller, Stanford, Vanderbilt; the rise of conglomerates; the Depression; the effects of WWI and WWII and the Civil War; the effect of government; the effect of slavery; the effect of immigration; stagflation; Reaganomics; Dot Com bubble; the Great Recession and the recovery; and, globalization. In recent years, Greenspan had as much of an affect on American economics as any single person in recent years, so he writes from a position of exceptional authority. Ever since the Great Bust of 2007, I have been very interested in in the functioning of the U.S. economy, and this book is one of the best and most informative I have found. If you want to understand where the U.S. has been economically and where it may be headed, this book is a must.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Marks54

    This one is a bit hard to review. It has its good points and is entertaining is spots. It is a too basic and clearly intended for a general reading audience. It is well written and draws on the best of current historical scholarship. The book also has a clear perspective, which is a mixed blessing. This is a one volume history of American capitalism that stretches temporally from colonial times to the beginning year of the Trump administration. The lead author is a former head of the Federal Rese This one is a bit hard to review. It has its good points and is entertaining is spots. It is a too basic and clearly intended for a general reading audience. It is well written and draws on the best of current historical scholarship. The book also has a clear perspective, which is a mixed blessing. This is a one volume history of American capitalism that stretches temporally from colonial times to the beginning year of the Trump administration. The lead author is a former head of the Federal Reserve and a legendary guru/oracle of finance during the 1990s and early 2000s. He is not free from concerns that he may have contributed to some of the events in the book through his policies. His coauthor is a well known and very skilled business writer for the Economist magazine. I suspect that this book is seen as a potential text for some introductory classes as various secondary and post-secondary levels, as well as perhaps in some online MOOC courses. On this account, the book is effective and if there had to be one text with this set of coverage parameters, one could choose worse ones than this. Readers can follow up this book with others and make their own judgments regarding gaps and balance. As a basic book, Greenspan’s perspective about a grand history of American capitalism, with a focus on entrepreneurship and “creative destruction”, is valuable. It is really important for a book to have a strong story so that readers see how the range of events that go into such a history fit together (at least more or less). The book views the history of American capitalism as the progressive triumph of entrepreneurship that has led to American prosperity and which has brought benefits to the masses that were hardly dreamed of at the time of the revolution. This occurs through processes of innovation and “creative destruction” that lead old ways of doing things to the dustbin of history while ushering in new and more productive approaches. Good bye buggies, horses, and buggy whips; hello automobiles! ... but ... The problem with grand historical narratives, especially of economic activity, is that they are inherently oversimplified and at their worst simplistic. Yes yes the country has prospered but what about those pesky costs, social and economic, that arose from creative destruction and were imposed upon others who did not make life choices that were blessed by the economic gods and perhaps did not see the history as a beneficial one, especially for them. Indians? Women? Slaves? Freed slaves? Chinese laborers? Don’t trouble me with details, after all, one needs to break some eggs to get ... This does not even begin to cover the costs of workers and families dislocated by economic changes with reduced possibilities for second chances. At a more metaphysical level, how does one begin to think about the roads not taken? Ok, so the US went for mass production and consumerism - was the alternative to that really Stalinist repression or third world poverty? The simulation fallacy looms large here and we will never know what might have happened. A broad history almost has to adopt a position that, of course there were the disadvantaged and dislocated, and that slavery and continental expansion were hard on indigenous people, but it all turned out for the better, didn’t it? Up to a point, I understand this, but seriously? It is really not OK as a method to average out the costs of massive social change across the various parties. Personal utilities are not standardized or interchangeable. Do were really want to dismiss the subjugation of millions of slaves, along with the traumas placed on freed slaves and their dependents by Jim Crow? That is a bit hard to fit into the story without wincing. Once you get going on this, it should be possible to rationalize anything in the name of progress - anything. More generally, a book like this must of necessity be an amalgamation of numerous subsections, each of which has its own body of scholarship behind it. For US economic history, there have been huge advances in research on virtually every topic included in this volume. To the authors’ credit, they cite the right researchers and appear to have done their homework. I know where to turn for more detail. The trouble of course is that for any of these topics, the implication of the research is far from clear, even for experts. For a new reader to this area, I have to think that follow-up reading will almost invariably lead to the conclusion that the history is far more complicated and hard to clearly interpret than is made the case in this volume. There is always nuance and it is not always clear how hard the authors are pushing their particular perspectives as opposed to broader levels of consensus. Particularly egregious was the critical analysis of the New Deal and the mini-recession of 1937, as well as the concluding analysis of the current causes of reduced US economic dynamism. Virtually all along the way, the perspectives of the authors are quite clear. This is OK - so I do not agree with the “march of entrepreneurship and creative destruction” story in its full range and detail. There are other stories to tell as well and the effort to present a grand narrative is problematic. But if it gets more people to read and think about these topics and perhaps even read in more detail and take issue with the authors, then that for me is a good result. I did not get much new material out of the book, but I was able to stick with it and did not give it up. It was OK and worth the effort.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    I was pleasantly surprised how readable and interesting this book turned out to be. If you're thinking about reading it --spoiler alert, the authors present capitalism and America in a favorable light -- your best approach would be to download the free Kindle sample, which contains the entire Introduction, which is very nicely done. If you like that, your library probably has a copy. A few tidbits from my notes: An ugly truth from the postwar South: the planters still needed labor. A good source: I was pleasantly surprised how readable and interesting this book turned out to be. If you're thinking about reading it --spoiler alert, the authors present capitalism and America in a favorable light -- your best approach would be to download the free Kindle sample, which contains the entire Introduction, which is very nicely done. If you like that, your library probably has a copy. A few tidbits from my notes: An ugly truth from the postwar South: the planters still needed labor. A good source: rented convicts from Southern prisons. Death rates: 11 to 16% per year (1887). A planter remarked, "one dies, you get another." Frederick Terman of Stanford has "as good a claim as anybody" to be the father of Silicon Valley. He built Stanford's engineering department into a world-class institution, built the Stanford Industrial Park -- and loaned his students Hewlett and Packard $538 from his own pocket in 1939, so they could start their business in Packard's garage. I'd never heard of him. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederi... How not to do taxation: in 1976, Astrid Lindgren, the Swedish author of the "Pippi Longstocking" books, received a tax bill for 102% of her income. In 1991, Swedish spending and taxation hit the wall, and they drastically reformed entitlements and their tax structure. We could, too -- if the political will could be found. I could go on, but I'll close with a strong recommendation: if the subject interests you, give the book a try. It's a good one. 4+ stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pleasant Oliver

    This book, written by one of the supposedly most brilliant chairs of the Federal Reserve in our history, is a major disappointment. It essentially is a paean to unfettered capitalism and almost entirely ignores its fundamental and often devastating flaws. It either ignores or whitewashes the most serious problems of our age that capitalists have caused or been major contributors to: worsening climate change, severe environmental degradation, growing income inequality, the urgent need to reform t This book, written by one of the supposedly most brilliant chairs of the Federal Reserve in our history, is a major disappointment. It essentially is a paean to unfettered capitalism and almost entirely ignores its fundamental and often devastating flaws. It either ignores or whitewashes the most serious problems of our age that capitalists have caused or been major contributors to: worsening climate change, severe environmental degradation, growing income inequality, the urgent need to reform the financial system, the capitalist oligarchy that controls both political parties, the crushing national debt, the death of organized labor and protections for the working class, and many more. He conveniently forgets the awful history of how capitalists have fought tooth and nail--with bribery, outsized political influence, monopolies and oligarchies, conspiracies, and yes, violence--to defeat, delay, and castrate every significant reform that has benefitted the middle and working classes since the 19th century. Today, very quietly and with total bipartisan support--the one thing Democrats and Republicans agree on are taking the maximum amount of campaign contributions from whoever will give it to them--Congress has stripped the Dodd-Frank Act of many of its protections. The current administration has neutralized the Consumer Protection Bureau and done much more to weaken protections for the environment and the very people--the disaffected millions of "deplorables"--who voted for Trump in 2016. Greenspan gives capitalism far too much credit for reforms that either state and local government carried out, especially the major improvements in public health, such as public water and sewer systems, or it was forced to adopt by progressive administrations. It is little more than a long excuse and deliberate cover-up for the serious flaws in the capitalist system that Greenspan himself caused that led to the 2008 Great Recession and its long-term aftermath. To make clear, I am NOT a marxist or socialist. In fact, I am a Edmund Burke conservative. I believe that capitalism is the best economic system available to have prosperous mass societies, BUT corporations must be managed based on the spiritual--and smart business--concept of STEWARDSHIP! They cannot be solely motivated by the highest profit at the lowest cost or the quarterly earnings report that drives their stock price AND multi-million-dollar executive bonuses. For example, it is obscene for one man to have "earned" an income in 2018 of almost $1 billion! They must be stewards--of their employees, the environment, their stockholders and creditors, their customers, their suppliers, everyone and everything they touch. Greenspan ignores virtually the deep responsibility capitalists have to everyone. This book is a travesty. Enough said.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alex Givant

    Excellent book about different stages of capitalism in America. When I saw the author is Greenspan I've prepared myself to pages full of "quantitative easing" and "irrational exuberance" sentences. The book was very vivid and refreshing, excellent language and information, highly recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Capitalism in America : A history, by Alan Greenspan, is an interesting overview of the history of Capitalism in America, and more generally, an examination of economic trends in America from conception to modern times. Greenspan is the former chair of the Federal Reserve in the United States, and as chair, a rampant supporter of the high growth, lasseiz-faire capitalism that was common in the States in the 1980's and 1990's. The book has its particular biases, which I will talk about later. The Capitalism in America : A history, by Alan Greenspan, is an interesting overview of the history of Capitalism in America, and more generally, an examination of economic trends in America from conception to modern times. Greenspan is the former chair of the Federal Reserve in the United States, and as chair, a rampant supporter of the high growth, lasseiz-faire capitalism that was common in the States in the 1980's and 1990's. The book has its particular biases, which I will talk about later. The book generally examines US economic history for the past few centuries. From an Agrarian economy at its inception, to one that promoted chattel slavery, onto industrialization in the 19th century. In the 20th century, the US economy began to take the shape it has today, first a modernizing economy dominated by industries, but slowly evolved into the global power we see today, with control over global trade, finance, and with a very powerful domestic industry focused on services and consumerism. The book closely examines the "great men" who made this possible, your Ford's, Rockefeller's. etc. etc. Greenspan is very much enthused with these Capitalist giants, and although he does mention some of the negative externalizes they unleashed on the economy, he mostly focuses on the positive - no criticism necessarily. The development of modern management structures, production techniques, industrial organization and so forth mostly originated or were innovated in the United States. Greenspan is also positive on the development of middle management culture, and the promotion of shareholder value as a key pillar of the financial system of the US. Greenspan does examine modern issues, such as the growth of stagflation (inefficient labour - ie. powerful unions and workforces), and the bubbles of the 1990's and early 2000's, which was an era of growth focus over economic stability. Greenspan's solutions to the 2008 recession are vague - not a bad thing necessarily. He seems to take a Chicago-school outlook, criticizing banks for their lack of reserves on their balance sheets. He does talk about the positive and negative aspects of creative destruction - how capitalism has historically disrupted previous generations in favour of new techniques, production, efficiencies and ideas. This is one of the key playoffs of the book - Greenspan admits that the negative aspects of creative destruction can be damaging, but ultimately concludes they are worth it, and those protesting against changes are like modern Luddites. Greenspan is a capitalist of the 1990's - big on finance, positive toward shareholder value, but thoughtful on slow, conservative reform of the economic system. The downsides of rampant capitalism are clear, but Greenspan looks at the positives throughout history, and ultimately concludes the cost benefit analysis is in favour. AS my rating attests, this book is positive, but a mixed bag in my opinion. I certainly do not fully agree with his prognosis on Capitalism and Greenspan's fawning endorsement. Destroying people now to encourage creative destruction, which largely benefits the already wealthy, in order to reform the system in their favour, is not a positive thing, in my opinion. Wealth should be distributed more evenly across societies. The rabid and unfaltering adherence to pure individualism in society in modern times is wrong - communities must and should share resources, promote each others well-being, and ensure wealth, labour and leisure are efficiently divided among all individuals. Greenspan would not agree - some "great men" it seems, are more worthy of wealth than others - even if they trend toward megalomaniac behaviour. Greenspan is not populist, but thoroughly capitalist. Their is no room for a more democratic system that promotes the interests of consumers, workers and the poor. Instead, the market will efficiently allocate resources if the "G' in government remains small. Whatever I think about these ideas, they are certainly ideas. If you are interested in Capitalism or economics at all, this is a good - if basic, overview of American Capitalism. It is certainly simple in some parts, and lacks greater detail on all sorts of interesting topics, but even so, is worthy of a read for the discourse and historical overview it offers. I would recommend this book to those looking for a more status quo analysis of Capitalism in the United States.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Barry

    A very useful economic history of the US. There may be more detail here than many readers would care to plow through, but it moves along surprisingly quickly. The concluding chapter is excellent — serving as a summary, explaining the pros/cons/necessity of creative destruction, and laying out a prescription for renewing our economic dynamism (including a fascinating look at how we can learn from Sweden’s experience). The book is worth buying for the last chapter alone.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nick Crowley

    Capitalism in America uses history to frame Alan Greenspan's traditional conservative ideology and his prescription for the future maintenance of the macroeconomy. With this book as evidence, I submit that his old-school brand of conservatism--while more palatable than the mindless populism currently in vogue--relies upon a several convenient omissions from the economic history of the United States, as well as a quintessentially aristocratic perspective on labor. For that reason, I am deeply ske Capitalism in America uses history to frame Alan Greenspan's traditional conservative ideology and his prescription for the future maintenance of the macroeconomy. With this book as evidence, I submit that his old-school brand of conservatism--while more palatable than the mindless populism currently in vogue--relies upon a several convenient omissions from the economic history of the United States, as well as a quintessentially aristocratic perspective on labor. For that reason, I am deeply skeptical of his conclusions. One thing Greenspan shares with Trump's populist movement is his belief that things used to be better. Not in terms of living standards--Greenspan goes on for several pages about the hardships of colonial life--but in terms of economic structure. The book begins with his commemoration of the 18th century Americans who, in the face of great adversity, managed to build a better society than Britain's. "From 1600-1766 the colonies enjoyed the world's fastest growth rate, growing more than twice as fast as the mother country. And by the time they were ready for divorce, Americans were the world's richest people, with an average output her head of $4.71 a day measured in 2017 dollars. Americans were two to three inches taller than Europeans. They were also more fertile [...] by 1800 the new country had dozens of universities, at a time when England only had two." He expounds upon the great resources and open space the pioneering men of the age used to create this economy, using hard work and ingenuity within a system free of regulation. He commends the founding fathers for banning internal tariffs and extending property rights to ideas via a system of copywriting. He fails to mention that the 'free land' and resources were stolen from the people who already lived there. He fails to mention that women could not own property until the mid-1800s. In later chapters, he discusses slavery and calls it barbaric, but does not backtrack tarnish the rosy picture he painted of America in its infancy. In other words, his vision of early America focuses on the economic advancement of white men, and blurs out everything else. I think this is the narrative many conservatives share of the early days of the United States. It is a myth of merit-based achievement, and the myth persists after the Civil War with the rise of oil, steel, and railroad tycoons. I should stop to say that Rockefeller, Carnegie, and J.P. Morgan deserve credit for their work just as Eli Whitney deserves credit for his cotton gin, because I don't claim that these titans of industry had nothing unique about them. They were brilliant workaholics who pushed society into the 20th century. But Greenspan waves his hands at liberal accusations of inequality and mistreatment of the common laborer, saying "these businesspeople where neither 'robbers' nor 'barons'[...]These men got rich by rolling up their sleeves and seizing their chances." He discusses the pollution, overcrowding, and poverty of industrial American cities, but never suggests that his great capitalists had anything to do with it, or could have done anything to improve matters. I interpreted Greenspan's history prior to 1930--about half the book--as a merely backdrop for his philosophy of political economy. I first saw glimmers of this philosophy emerge in his chapter on the great depression. In this chapter, he makes two things clear: government spending is bad for the long term health of an economy, and labor unions will slow economic growth. He rails against Roosevelt's New Deal and takes repeated shots at the union agreements that were signed in this era ("The Treaty of Detroit was eating away at the foundations of American affluence.") I found myself groaning at his apparent disregard for living wages and other benefits. In any case, he finds a way to apply these two components of his philosophy to each decade until the present throughout the rest of the book. I thoroughly disliked the extent of Greenspan's bias in this book. He uses Enron as an example of prosperous American enterprise that went under at the turn of the millennium, conveniently omitting anything about their rampant accounting and energy fraud. He laments the overreach of government regulation, citing a child's lemonade stand that got shut down in Maryland a few years ago. In fact the incident in question apparently involved "kids hawking bottled beverages under a 10-foot by 10-foot tent near a nationally televised sports event", an operation mostly orchestrated by the parents. This is an intellectually dishonest misconstrual of the facts. I am confident dozens of other examples exist in the book that I did not catch. For this reason, I'm skeptical of the conclusions Greenspan makes about regulation, government spending, and organized labor. Specifically, although I think we can tidy up regulation, I think it plays a crucial role in fostering a functional (if not safe) society. I agree that we could streamline social security, but I think medicaid should be expanded--in fact, I believe in single payer healthcare. I firmly disagree with his misgivings on labor. I think laborers should be more organized. Executive pay needs to be cut and distributed to the work force. Greenspan would have a heart attack! Now comes the HOWEVER: I found some value in reading this book. I agree, to some extent, in his thesis that creative destruction drives progress. I even agree that the current economic environment disincentivizes such creative destruction--with start-ups generally selling themselves to big quasi monopolies rather than defeating inefficient, ageing competitors; with complex regulations impeding entry to new business. Furthermore, I walked away with two new ideas: (1) perhaps social security should be need-based and not age-based. I'm not sure Greenspan explicitly suggested this idea in the book, although he certainly proposed pushing the age to receive federal retirement benefits to 67 or even 70 years of age. If you have $2 million+ in your retirement fund, should you really be getting a check from the government every month, at the expense of the health of the economy? (2) I'm now less convinced that Roosevelt's New Deal was the economic boone I previously believed it to be. In fact, between 1931 and 1937, unemployment increased from ~16% to ~17%. Gross National Product and private investment did not return to pre-crisis levels until the advent of World War II. Without a counterfactual, we can't know the true value of Roosevelt's policies. But my beliefs on the matter may be shifting now. As annoying as I found much of this book, I can't walk away from something that both kept me interested and introduced me to new ideas without giving it at least three stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    “Capitalism in America” is one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time. To be honest, when I picked it up from the library, I wasn’t sure that I was in the mood for a challenging read about the history of capitalism in America, especially right around the Christmas holidays. However, I was pleasantly surprised once I began to read it. It is very well written and very user friendly and I couldn't put it down. Greenspan focuses on three organizing themes: productivity, creative dest “Capitalism in America” is one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time. To be honest, when I picked it up from the library, I wasn’t sure that I was in the mood for a challenging read about the history of capitalism in America, especially right around the Christmas holidays. However, I was pleasantly surprised once I began to read it. It is very well written and very user friendly and I couldn't put it down. Greenspan focuses on three organizing themes: productivity, creative destruction and politics. Throughout our history, productivity (society’s ability to get more output from a given input) has continually increased. The process that drives productivity is creative destruction. We continually create new ways of doing things and making things which make our former ways of doing things obsolete. Politics is involved with respect to how we deal with the fallout of creative destruction as a society. Lost manufacturing jobs in the Rust Belt is a good example. From the beginning of our republic in 1776, through the Civil War, the age of railroads, WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, the economic and manufacturing boom after WWII, stagflation of the 1970s, the optimism of the Reagan years and the 1990s, and the Great Recession, Greenspan reveals the creative, economic, political and social forces at work which shaped our economy and our lives. The chapter on America’s fading dynamism is a cautionary tale for our future. This is an outstanding book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Edward Ocampo

    A compelling narrative which chronologically covers the economic history of the United States. The 19th and most of the 20th century are covered in detail with interesting insights but the last 25 years do not get the same attention. The last chapter proposes a policy response to America's fading economic dynamism which failed to entirely convince me. Nevertheless, well worth reading.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Luisa Knight

    Wow! A really well-balanced and informative overview of the historical economics of America. Definitely recommend it if this is a topic you’re interested in.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Robert Melnyk

    Excellent book about the history of Capitalism in America. The title may lead you to believe that this will be a very dry read, and that perhaps you would need a degree in economics to understand what is being said. However, Greenspan does a very good job of presenting the material in a way that the layman can understand. It is basically a history of our country from the American Revolution to present day America, told from the perspective of capitalism. He focuses a great deal on the concept of Excellent book about the history of Capitalism in America. The title may lead you to believe that this will be a very dry read, and that perhaps you would need a degree in economics to understand what is being said. However, Greenspan does a very good job of presenting the material in a way that the layman can understand. It is basically a history of our country from the American Revolution to present day America, told from the perspective of capitalism. He focuses a great deal on the concept of creative destruction, whereby the creativity and ingenuity to create new and improved ideas and methods ultimately leads to the destruction of the old ways. Examples would be electric lighting replacing gas lamps, and the automobile replacing the horse and buggy. Greenspan also discusses the political fallout of these changes in society. Overall, a very interesting and thought provoking read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    I applaud the sentiment behind this book. The authors recognize that capitalism and free enterprise are becoming increasingly unpopular in the US--these days, neither major political party embraces the merits of economic dynamism and limited, smart government, and there is no major voice arguing against central planning. So it would be great if someone could push back on current trends. They do have some great lines: "America prospered in large part because it accepted that destruction is the pr I applaud the sentiment behind this book. The authors recognize that capitalism and free enterprise are becoming increasingly unpopular in the US--these days, neither major political party embraces the merits of economic dynamism and limited, smart government, and there is no major voice arguing against central planning. So it would be great if someone could push back on current trends. They do have some great lines: "America prospered in large part because it accepted that destruction is the price for creation" (390). That's true, and important! However, I don't think this book will do the trick. It's interesting as an economic history--drawing mostly on existing work (What Hath God Wrought, The Republic for Which It Stands, Robert Gordon's book)--and in that respect it may be a useful one-volume story of the American economy. I enjoyed reading it. But the book is flawed in several ways. My biggest complaint is simply that the book doesn't meet basic standards of academic writing. The authors make a lot of claims without supporting footnotes. They show a lot of figures without source notes. Frankly, that is unacceptable--not because I don't trust the authors, but because readers need to know where you're getting your data and facts. More broadly, the book reads like a very long op-ed. It's heavy on normative claims, often without a lot of accompanying argument. My other complaint is about the authors' prescription for current American problems. In chapter 12, "America's fading dynamism," the authors recite the standard list (at least among economists) of current economic trends: declining rates of business entry (though this is more nuanced than the authors suggest), a declining pace of job and worker flows, an apparent decline in upward inter-generational upward mobility, weak public investment in infrastructure, increasing industry concentration, "deaths of despair", "stagnating" high school completion rates, increasing hostility toward immigrants including critical high-skill immigrants, and of course the productivity slowdown. These are all important issues on which researchers and (some) policymakers are intensely focused. They are complicated. These authors think they have the answer: "So why is the country stagnating? The most important reason is the growth of productivity-suppressing entitlements" (404). This is just absurd. The entitlement situation is a crisis to be sure. But to argue that it explains all of the many patterns listed above is just laughably dumb; and the authors provide no serious argument linking these issues. So while I am definitely here for the anti-old-age-entitlements screed that follows page 404--we *do* have a massive old-age entitlement problem--I think the authors are irresponsible to tell people they've found the simple solution to some really difficult questions. If we solve the entitlement problem, I don't expect the other problems to magically go away. So the book left me pretty unsatisfied, even though I enjoyed going through it. It peddles easy solutions to big problems. And it has a tone and approach that is not going to persuade many people who aren't already persuaded of the merits of--yes I'll say it--neoliberalism. So it's a missed opportunity.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Prenika Kadian

    The book explains really well the factors needed for making capitalism a success. It is very readable with examples that everyone can understand. Never gets too technical. The first half of the book is pretty interesting in that it explains the policies that led to the rise of America as the superpower that we know. The second half which is the post war era is a tad too simplistic and misses some real issues and maybe an external(outside in) perspective. Having read 'A people's history of United The book explains really well the factors needed for making capitalism a success. It is very readable with examples that everyone can understand. Never gets too technical. The first half of the book is pretty interesting in that it explains the policies that led to the rise of America as the superpower that we know. The second half which is the post war era is a tad too simplistic and misses some real issues and maybe an external(outside in) perspective. Having read 'A people's history of United States', I found this one lacking in a lot of social/economic issues that affect(ed) the rise/fall of capitalism.

  15. 4 out of 5

    John Carradini

    A well described overview of the historical basis for our economic system in America. At points this reads more like a textbook, but occasionally yields succinct commentary on the implications of an era. My only criticism is Chairman Greenspan at times glosses over eras and doesn’t effectively communicate salient points. However, the limit of only 450 pages constrained him. I believe this serves as a fantastic primer for those who are interested in the broader history of Capitalism, and will ine A well described overview of the historical basis for our economic system in America. At points this reads more like a textbook, but occasionally yields succinct commentary on the implications of an era. My only criticism is Chairman Greenspan at times glosses over eras and doesn’t effectively communicate salient points. However, the limit of only 450 pages constrained him. I believe this serves as a fantastic primer for those who are interested in the broader history of Capitalism, and will inevitably result in more investigation of specific eras.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mike McGrath

    Great history of creative destruction and the examples of titans in industry both successful and those failures. Good recap of the two proposed solutions (entitlement reform and banking changes) and the reasons for encouragement when looking at the work done in Sweden.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Robert Kalik

    Capitalism and History! What two subjects could be better combined? Well thought out, well written!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Thorough treatment of the subject and it ends on a semi-hopeful note. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a non-technical history of capitalism. The authors do a great job tying together the underlying principles that govern the threats to growth and prosperity that now exist in the US market and society in general.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lowell Walter

    This is a very good overview of the economic history of America, and it includes Greenspan’s thoughts on the current and future state of the American economy. 10/10 would recommend. Zack Sheldon should read this book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Penelope

    I listened to the audiobook and found it very interesting.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    For the most part Capitalism in America is an ambitious account of the history of the development of Capitalism in America. Unlike other accounts which may focus on a certain era or financial, Greenspan and Wooldridge attempt to give an overall sweep of the history of America intertwined with economic and financial developments. The result is greater context and also scope. However the account is slightly flawed because it is colored by "market fundamentalism" (to use a Soros term), this not onl For the most part Capitalism in America is an ambitious account of the history of the development of Capitalism in America. Unlike other accounts which may focus on a certain era or financial, Greenspan and Wooldridge attempt to give an overall sweep of the history of America intertwined with economic and financial developments. The result is greater context and also scope. However the account is slightly flawed because it is colored by "market fundamentalism" (to use a Soros term), this not only effects the content, but also the prescription that the book ends with. While having an opinion is not in and of itself a negative, I feel that a book that attempts to provide a history should be as impartial as possible. For example, Greenspan and Wooldridge assert: "Hostility to creative destruction is usually loudest on the left." But by what measure? The right arguably is just as hostile to change - through the paying of lobbyists to introduce tariffs and favourable legislative reform, the pressure from the oil industry to fight against green energy. At times this opinion comes through and I feel taints the analysis (other examples include: railing against unions and the view that the "United States is now encrusted with entitlements"). Meanwhile heaping praise on Jack Welch worship, and belief that: "Performance-related pay and a vigorous market in corporate control would soon restore corporate America to rude health." (Lowenstein's Origins of the Crash presents a worthy rebuttal of this). However they also note: "Bubbles are endemic to capitalism and human nature". Wouldn't it also make sense therefore to introduce rules to limit their effects (especially given that the markets have time and again failed to self-regulate)? Now this would be reasonable if supported by facts - but the evidence presented does not really support this. In many ways, the attempt to justify leaving the market to its own means is a an attempt for Greenspan to justify his (oft criticised) hands-off at the helm of the Fed - although he does not directly touch on this in the account. Which comes to the main other gripe - the presentation of facts and statistics. To support their points, the authors frequently resort to annualised growth rates over certain periods of time - however these periods often feel arbitrary and also unequal. Further there is scant justification for their choice, which makes you wonder if there was some data mining involved. At other times, statistics are chosen however the point made is difficult counterfactuals. For example, they assert: "imports from China explained 21 percent of the decline in manufacturing employment during the years 1990 to 2007—or the loss of 1.5 million jobs." This is a counterfactual that is almost impossible to calculate with justification - how do we know that, without cheap labor, companies would not have chosen to automate the jobs, or that the cheap goods freed up capital to invest in developing other industries (for example: without the ability to sell iPods and iPhones cheaply, there may never have been the resurgence of Apple products that led to them building Apple stores). In conclusion, book feels like "a cry for a return to the heroic days of American business when entrepreneurs spun giant companies out of brilliant ideas and when heroic individuals, unencumbered by government interference, built iron horses and flying machines." However, one cannot help but feel a slight tinge of irony - many of the "entrepreneurs" were helped by government (e.g. the railways were given parcels of land). The above gripes highlighted above are for me what stops the book being a "must read", as opposed to an "interesting read". All in all, I still learn't much from the book - in particular early American financial history. I find the book's first 6 chapters far more compelling than the last 6 - which dealt with the mid-twentieth century onwards (which is where I thought most of the impartiality came through).

  22. 4 out of 5

    KN

    I came across this book as I was browsing through the new releases section on Amazon. Normally I do not venture into new releases but the authorship of this book along with the potential scope of the book made me want to read it asap. And yes the scope of the book is indeed magnificent. This isn't a book about a particular successful business. It is instead about all the businesses (or atleast the types) that were successful in America right from its birth to present day. It is about how the USA I came across this book as I was browsing through the new releases section on Amazon. Normally I do not venture into new releases but the authorship of this book along with the potential scope of the book made me want to read it asap. And yes the scope of the book is indeed magnificent. This isn't a book about a particular successful business. It is instead about all the businesses (or atleast the types) that were successful in America right from its birth to present day. It is about how the USA was formed and shaped economically, right from the earliest passengers on the Mayflower to the current workforce, still reeling under the policies of Donald Trump. It is about how USA came to be rightfully known as the land of opportunity, as it provided the brave and the lucky ones the correct set of conditions for them to grow - both their own wealth, and the collective wealth of the country ahead. The journey of America is indeed fascinating. As the authors mention in the introduction, at the time of of the 17th century, the continent of America was but an unknown on the global stage. "The region is nothing more than an empty space on the map—a vast wilderness sitting above Latin America, with its precious metals, and between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, with their trading routes and treasure troves of fish. The wilderness is populated by aboriginal peoples who have had no contact with the Davos crowd. There are a few Europeans in New England and Virginia—but they report that the life is hard and civilization nonexistent. The entire North American continent produces less wealth than the smallest German principality." From that point in history to today, where "the United States is the world’s biggest economy: a mere 5 percent of the world’s population, it produces a quarter of its GDP expressed in U.S. dollars," the journey of a continent is instructive to study. The authors has divided the growth of America into various stages of its life. America was a child of the British Empire and fortunate in this regard, according to the author. "America was lucky in its paternity: it was far better to be the child of the country that produced the first Industrial Revolution and the first parliamentary government than, say, the child of Spain or Belgium." Also having been born in the age of the Enlightenment, America was fortunate that the old institutions were being questioned and new and better ways of thought were been adopted. As a result it could grow economically faster than anytime before in history (the average of which was 11% per century!) Not only that but the fact that the Founding Fathers of the nation wrote a Constitution that guaranteed their citizens a set of rights (including their property rights) created a fertile ground for risk takers and entrepreneurs to try their luck out in an unknown and hostile frontier. "Americans were instinctive supporters of Joseph Schumpeter’s idea that the real motors of historical change were not workers, as Marx had argued, nor abstract economic forces, as his fellow economists tended to imply, but people who build something out of nothing, inventors like Thomas Edison, who had 1,093 patents, and company builders like Henry Ford, Thomas Watson, and Bill Gates." Combine the risk seeking entrepreneurs with the vast amount of land available to the risk takers, it ensured that the risk takers were suitably rewarded as well. According to the author, one thing that worked very well for America in its growth was that its businessmen were not afraid of change. They say that change is the only constant in this world. What is here today may not be there tomorrow. And the process of growth is similarly accompanied by change, however painful it may be. The process of creative destruction where new inventions and discoveries completely changed the way people ate, moved, or lived, has been America's constant companion and its lady luck for its innovators. Let's take the example of transport. For many centuries, people used to depend on animals for taking them from one place to another. Horses were domesticated and then bred selectively to help in this endeavour. It was only in the early 20th century that Henry Ford mass produced his famous Model T that the entire business of moving people around from one place to another changed. This brought with it a lot of destruction - of old ways, but it made transport easier, and cheaper. The same was the case with the invention of electrical lighting by Thomas Edison. Successive innovations have changed the way people live completely, and with the decease of old way of doing things, came a seed of creation. The author also mentions that the country's politicians - right from its founding fathers to the current crop of politicians had a very important role in bringing America to where it is right now. Indeed the policies that they set affected to a very great extent the position that America occupies in the world stage. And last but not the least, where would America be without its bankers, its entrepreneurs, and its managers? There are enough examples given in this book whose biographies would be entertaining and fulfilling to read. JP Morgan, Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Edison, Roosevelt, Reagan, Jack Welch and countless others have contributed in no small part to the rapid growth of business and industry in America. America also had luck on its side. Blessed with an isolated landmass with acres of fertile land above, and huge reserves of resources underneath the ground, America could utilize these to become a net exporter in world trade. With huge tracts of land to populate, it was cheaper for the government to attract settlements with the promise of enough land. America was also unaffected to the same extent as Europe during the two World Wars, due to the vast Atlantic Ocean that provided a natural shield for any would-be invaders. This allowed America to grow in seeming isolation and quiet. Of course America's growth wasn't a straight line or in a single direction. There were many times when the mettle of the new country was tested - the Great Depression, the world wars, the 70s oil crisis, and the two recessions of the 21st century. Except during the Great Depression, which was one of the earliest and the biggest economic downturns that the country has seen, on most of the other occasions it has managed to bounce back quickly to reach the pre-crisis economic output. Even today, America is facing a crisis of sorts, at the political and economic level. The surprising win of Donald Trump over a more experience political rival and the upheaval in the stock market since his win has had every one worried. Not to mention his oft-surprising trade policies that is making people scratch their heads. Over the last few decades, America, according to the authors has become complacent. A combination of over-confident managers and companies, a rise in the social entitlements, a worsening demographic equation and increasing bureaucratic tangles for businesses will make it more difficult for America to come out of its current quagmire. But the authors are confident that this is not something that America is facing for the first time in its history. Earlier too, the country has experienced signs of stagflation, and earlier, America has come out of it successfully and more powerful. If only it uses the forces of creative destruction and its collective intellectual capital that is still the envy of the world, it will still find a place among the top influential countries in the world for years to come. tldr This book is indeed epic in the eras that it covers. I liked the logical separation of the various decades and the most important development that took place in each of these eras. The authors have themed each era into what shaped that particular era. For example, there was a clear age where different sections of people were at their most powerful. Bankers, owners, managers each have dedicated chapters where they were most powerful. Although it is a long read, the chapterization of the various eras makes it easier to comprehend and complete. Pick this book up if you want to understand the forces that made America a global superpower in the world economy and the problems that it faces today to maintain that position. ==== Read more such reviews at our website - https://www.fewpagesmore.com

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shamus Ewer

    3/5 stars because of intense, pure capitalist thought process and procedures. I guess these republicans just need to further their economic agendas and they do it by revisionist history and/or by minimizing the Great Depression era as an epoch of time-consuming waste that saddled future Americans with basement-living, 400-pound types. Give me a break!! Thank God I stole this book by accident. However, it does trace the American economy from the revolution through the First-World-War with accurac 3/5 stars because of intense, pure capitalist thought process and procedures. I guess these republicans just need to further their economic agendas and they do it by revisionist history and/or by minimizing the Great Depression era as an epoch of time-consuming waste that saddled future Americans with basement-living, 400-pound types. Give me a break!! Thank God I stole this book by accident. However, it does trace the American economy from the revolution through the First-World-War with accuracy and spontaneity. It's the last 70 pages that gets down and dirty with anti-social-security diatribes that offer no solution except to throw people off it by their 85th birthdays. While it is not a Trumpster (Trump) lover it comes pretty close. It's something that Trump could agree with if he could read. If the authors had realized that fate plays such an enormous role in every human activity I don't believe the book would have been a waste of my time

  24. 4 out of 5

    Vincent Li

    A pretty conventional economic history of the US. That's not to say it's not interesting or has its moments (I particularly appreciated the quirkier stories of how Singer had multiple families concurrently, that the inventor of vulcanization was convinced God wanted him to make chemical discoveries despite having no chemical education, that JP Morgan was incredibly unhealthy, or that Taylor’s first consultation was made based of invented numbers and he charged more than the savings following his A pretty conventional economic history of the US. That's not to say it's not interesting or has its moments (I particularly appreciated the quirkier stories of how Singer had multiple families concurrently, that the inventor of vulcanization was convinced God wanted him to make chemical discoveries despite having no chemical education, that JP Morgan was incredibly unhealthy, or that Taylor’s first consultation was made based of invented numbers and he charged more than the savings following his advice would have produced), but predictable in content and direction. Reads similarly to a textbook, even dropping titles of books into paragraphs as useful starting points for further research. A good review of capitalism in the US, as well as the orthodox economic wisdom of the ages. The book makes standard arguments for the free market (less regulation, and taxes), and uses interesting historical illustrations to support the economic arguments. The book celebrates in particular creative destruction and argues that innovators were what always drove the American economy (and to that end they suggest lowering taxes and regulations so that the creative energies of the country can be released). The authors note that creative destruction always has a political fall out that if not handled correctly can stifle economic growth. Innovation also needs to be supported by changes in corporate structure and even physical layout for the full fruits to bear (for example, factories did not really take advantage of electric motors until the vertically floor system which was fit for steam powered machines were reorganized into horizontal groups). The book swims in numbers, often trying to show changes through recitations of changing statistics such as amounts of products produced, consumed, transported etc to prove the point. The book tries to describe on a broad view the economic evolution of the country, praising the American constitutional system of federalism and individual rights as supportive of property rights necessary for a strong capitalist economy. The book praises the guilded age (showing that for many industries prices fell, and arguing the predatory pricing was not prevalent) and lambasts the New Deal. The book paints the New Deal as an attempted cartelization of private industry that on the whole damaged the American economy instead of helping it. The book sees unions as stifling the labor market, and prefers the Detroit treaty of privatized healthcare to welfare states but otherwise sees organized labor as mostly anti-productive. In other words, the book essentially sums up the traditional beliefs of free-market oriented positions, with historical illustrations in a generally chronological order. Useful as a starting point for the economic history of the US or as a readable broad review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lloyd Fassett

    10/20/18 How I found it: wall St Journal Review‘: Capitalism in America’ Review: The Commercial Republic https://www.wsj.com/articles/capitali... 11/4/18 The New York Times review treats the book like expired economic ideas of history. The review makes it sound like the book doesn't address social ills of the system like that lack of healthcare or why Unions we're a thing. Maybe the book does though. By coincidence? Another article in today's NYTs Book Review points out that Aym Rand's Fountainhea 10/20/18 How I found it: wall St Journal Review‘: Capitalism in America’ Review: The Commercial Republic https://www.wsj.com/articles/capitali... 11/4/18 The New York Times review treats the book like expired economic ideas of history. The review makes it sound like the book doesn't address social ills of the system like that lack of healthcare or why Unions we're a thing. Maybe the book does though. By coincidence? Another article in today's NYTs Book Review points out that Aym Rand's Fountainhead was #9 on the bestseller list this week in 1943. The NYTs didn't like that form of Capitalism in literature then either. Ayn Rand has a prominent place in Greenspan's view of Capitalism and apparently still does. Fountainhead Review, 1943 https://nyti.ms/2YSnBP 10/25/20 Nope, the book doesn't cover the idea that government should provide some basic accommodation for human survivability like healthcare, food or housing, but I thought that was ok. It's actually a really great history of America. Very lucid and the right level of details for a book that covers 250 years. I think Greenspan reflects his generation and training because the book is really about economic growth. It's as if he's saying 'be glad you have a job at all'. I studied economic history as a major at USC in the early 90's and covered most of the same incidents, but the book is still worth reading. If nothing else the lack of clear focus on the relationship between why have a government and who gets to answer that, focuses me on the lack of that focus. The retrospective on the drivers of growth in capitalism vs centralized governments + Schumpeter again and again, are true. But does that mean we need to keep proceeding as Americans with a balance more on 'I/me' and 'too bad for you' for the rest? At one point he calls health insurance welfare offered by businesses in the U.S. and governments elsewhere. My issue is that basic healthcare isn't welfare, it's a human right in our modern age. America was created for business and for growth. It's been a fun story of winners that drive productivity growth. I think it's time for a new conversation though. It's a really good book to have a basic understanding of our history with the power of business and our democratic form of government, even if it doesn't address that issue head-on. He does provide, to me, a compelling defense of why he lobbied to keep interest rates low before the 2008 recession too.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Only a very small number of people are going to like this book. Funny enough, there really aren't many surveys of American economic history written for laypeople, so comparisons aren't going to do much good. But the book is choppy, at times contradictory (praising intellectual property in the beginning as a cause for American economic strength, and then calling it a cause of American productivity decline in the current age - or of praising Japanese protectionism while almost everywhere else curs Only a very small number of people are going to like this book. Funny enough, there really aren't many surveys of American economic history written for laypeople, so comparisons aren't going to do much good. But the book is choppy, at times contradictory (praising intellectual property in the beginning as a cause for American economic strength, and then calling it a cause of American productivity decline in the current age - or of praising Japanese protectionism while almost everywhere else cursing it), and at least once wrong (about where HAL 9000's name came from). The central thesis is that America became strong from a strong adherence to Schumpeter's idea of Creative Destruction: that by letting firms fail new, better firms grow. There is ample evidence for this, and the book does well enough when arguing along these lines, which it does with nuanxe until the recent era. The wheels kind of fall apart at the end, when the author begins sounding like a very Old Man Yells At Cloud, when they start complaining about kids selling lemonade and bake sales, which feels very different than the cool, calculated style of the economic policy or, say, Andrew Jackson. Greenspan has no answers, and one might be tempted to forget that he was at the helm until right before the Great Recession, so any forecasting he makes should be done with that in mind.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robert Jerome

    This book is really a combination of two books. One book is the republican talk show host quality recitation of pious mantra about unions being evil and interference with the magic of the free market being evil and foolhardy. This book is a two star repeat of something that's published 10 times a year. The second book is a popularly accessible short version of the "Economic History of the United States" variety of academic book. Much of what doesn't tow the republican line is edited out and the This book is really a combination of two books. One book is the republican talk show host quality recitation of pious mantra about unions being evil and interference with the magic of the free market being evil and foolhardy. This book is a two star repeat of something that's published 10 times a year. The second book is a popularly accessible short version of the "Economic History of the United States" variety of academic book. Much of what doesn't tow the republican line is edited out and the brevity of the book forces it to be shallow. Still, The book does go into the economic nuances of some of the most important and interesting periods of the united states' development. Much of the data included is intended to support the argument that the American reverence for independent achievement and aversion toward government were the foundation of its emergence as a world power. Overall, the author drops intellectual rigor in favor of the standard republican lines that sell millions of copies. I would recommend a standard Economic history text - like Ronald E Seavoy's.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hamzah Raza

    Greenspan's name on the cover is only marketing. After reading the shallow, impersonal and rushed chapter on the great recession, I closed the book and pitied myself for being enough of a fool to suffer through 400 pages, all in wait of a moment of sincerity. So what's wrong with America? Taxes, regulation and entitlements! Even when I agree, the predictableness and conformity of all of the opinions in this book left me feeling like I had read nothing at all.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    For a simple review of capitalism in America, this book is OK. It tells the story, but it reads more like a textbook than a worthy work of non-fiction. It's unfortunate because the subject matter is great and I respect its author. I just can't recommend sitting down to take this one in.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Langel

    Capitalism in America by Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge scored an A+ in the Report Card featured in my video on Youtube (Jesse Langel). This book is a thrilling narrative of America's explosive growth and fading dynamism. WHAT you'll get out of this book? You will get a comprehensive education of America's entire life, with particular emphasis on three elements: productivity, creative destruction, and politics. All three work together to paint the vivid picture of how the "restless disconten Capitalism in America by Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge scored an A+ in the Report Card featured in my video on Youtube (Jesse Langel). This book is a thrilling narrative of America's explosive growth and fading dynamism. WHAT you'll get out of this book? You will get a comprehensive education of America's entire life, with particular emphasis on three elements: productivity, creative destruction, and politics. All three work together to paint the vivid picture of how the "restless discontent of capitalism" has produced the most dominant country of the 20th Century. You will marvel at this country's genius at innovating solutions to a rapidly changing landscape and commercializing those solutions. For example, you'll gain perspective on innovations ranging from steel, railroads, combustion engine, cotton gin, assembly line, air conditioners, airplanes, transistors, corporations, LLC's, computers, and the internet. You will learn about the major events that shaped America, including the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Great Depression, immigration, stagflation, and globalization. You will understand the concept of "creative destruction," which is essentially new innovations which destroy replaced markets. You will develop an emotional connection with America's story told through the voice (if you listen, which I recommend in addition to reading this) of Ray Porter, my favorite narrator. The mix of facts with storytelling in this book makes for a riveting ride through this 455-page masterpiece. HOW this book will HELP you: This book will provide an economic-history education as deep and as comprehensive as any other. It will embolden you to express historical opinions. You will gain perspective on years, decades, and centuries. You will learn and appreciate America's presidents, which often held opposing views from one presidency to the next. You'll gain insight on where we are now, and where we are headed since history repeats itself. You will better grasp how the economy relies on government (and entrepreneurialism) to help direct it forward. You will make discoveries about the country, the world, and perhaps yourself. Report-Card Breakdown The book’s final grade is an A+. In order to arrive at that grade, I use three subcategories: 1) Style; 2) Research; and 3) Impact. Style For style, I examine the manner in which the information is presented, and the overall execution of the book. I consider the prose itself, format, design, tone, thematic display, narration, clarity, cohesion, and other visual elements. Here, the book scored an A in style because of its tight, logical presentation of American history. The book is divided into 12 chapters, which encapsulated the details and spirit of the period of time it covered. For example, The Two Americas (Chapter 2) will paint the vivid picture of the intensifying emotions between the North and South that led to the Civil War. The Golden Age of Growth: 1945-1970 (Chapter 8) will likely drop your jaw by conveying how much America was responsible for the world's output of goods, including steel and electronics. The chapter on Stagflation (ch. 9) will expose how America lost its edge by relying on the research-and-development gains of post World-War II. Research This book deserves an A+ because it is basically defined by its competence in research. The authors are as credible as can be. Alan Greenspan was the former Chair of the Federal Reserve (1987-2006). Wooldridge is an editor of the Economist Magazine. Impact For Impact, I consider the impact on the reading community (Amazon and Goodreads, mainly), and on myself. As to myself, I was blown away by the sequential developments of this industrious country. I was also humbled by the missteps of our country, and its signs of maturity, managerial bloat, and decline. As to the community, this book was awarded 4.4 of 5 stars on Amazon. On Goodreads, the book scored 4.11 of 5 stars. Recommendation Absolutely yes, consume this book. I intend to read and/or listen to this once per year to maintain my grasp on the most intriguing set of facts I could possibly imagine. I predict that this will be book of the year. I found a cool video where Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge discuss their experience writing this book: : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnbDB... Cool quote #1 (p. 327): "In the 1930's, Americans turned to government to save them from the instability of the market. In the 1980's, they turned to entrepreneurs to save them from the suffocation of government." Cool quote #2 (p. 300): "Richard Nixon worried in private that the United States had become subject to the same decadence, which eventually destroys a civilization."

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