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Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of…
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Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power (edition 2005)

by John Steele Gordon (Author)

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486336,351 (3.87)2
Throughout time, from ancient Rome to modern Britain, the great empires built and maintained their domination through force of arms and political power. But not the United States. America has dominated the world in a new, peaceful, and pervasive way -- through the continued creation of staggering wealth. In this authoritative, engrossing history, John Steele Gordon captures as never before the true source of our nation's global influence: wealth and the capacity to create more of it. This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.… (more)
Member:mamarracq
Title:Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power
Authors:John Steele Gordon (Author)
Info:Harper Perennial (2005), Edition: Reprint, 460 pages
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Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power by John Steele Gordon

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Powerful, informative, great learning aid. Yet a fairly easy and entertaining read. The book covers hundreds of years of economic, political and social history but stays lively and engaging through the use of personal stories.

I learned much and the book changed some of my ideas about history and business. ( )
  thejazzmonger | Mar 15, 2011 |
As a reader, I sometimes wonder if a book seems immeasurably better or worse due to my expectations based solely on the author's name and the title. If so, my enthusiasm for An Empire of Wealth may be partially due to my initial opinion that it was a form of proverbial spinach, with necessary knowledge about an important, but boring, subject. Instead, I found a book that was hard to put down, a fun-filled romp through almost 400 years of economic developments that have unquestionably shaped American history.

John Steele Gordon, author of several books, and frequent contributor to American Heritage magazine, breaks the epic history into five timeframes: pre-Revolutionary War, Revolutionary War to 1860, Civil War to 1914, World War I to 1938, and World War II to the present. The intriguing parallel of this division is that wartime offers the dramatic economic realignment from one period to the next. This is an often unintended consequence of war and often unexplored (except in the case of World War II as the bridge between the Great Depression and the post-war expansion).

As befits someone who frequently contributes to a Forbes-owned publication, Gordon is clearly an economic conservative who believes that American economic history suggest a specific, limited role for government to play. This leads to repetitions about the dire consequences of tax increases that are unintentionally humorous, but also to a serious presentation of the historical roots of economic conservatism. A Keynesian would probably suggest a different overall narrative, particularly about optimal government involvement in the economy, but would agree with Gordon's choice of key turning points and with the signal importance of innovation in propelling the economy for the last 400 years.

Among the pleasures of this book, aside from the wealth of stories from everything about steamboat regulatory development to the mechanics of computer technology, is that it clearly contextualizes important things that make news but are understood by few people. Among the recurring themes, the explanation of monetary policy, particularly about gold and silver standards, is clear and helpful, as is the gradual shaping of the stock market into the behemoth it became in the mid-20th century.

Extremely well-written and informative, this is a valuable book for any American history buff. It is also useful to better understand economic reporting on the evening news and in the morning paper. Moreover, it is an absolute treat to read from cover to cover. ( )
  ALincolnNut | Jan 10, 2011 |
I picked this book up at the used book store. It is very readable, a bit boosterish about the US, but very interesting in its concentration on banking and financial history, and the growth of US financial and manufacturing power. I enjoyed the numerical explanations of the Erie canal, and of the achievements of the “robber barons” of the 19th century, less of an evil than always supposed. ( )
  neurodrew | Mar 5, 2007 |
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Throughout time, from ancient Rome to modern Britain, the great empires built and maintained their domination through force of arms and political power. But not the United States. America has dominated the world in a new, peaceful, and pervasive way -- through the continued creation of staggering wealth. In this authoritative, engrossing history, John Steele Gordon captures as never before the true source of our nation's global influence: wealth and the capacity to create more of it. This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

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