AN EMPIRE OF WEALTH: The Epic History of American Economic Power

John Steele Gordon, Author
John Steele Gordon, Author . HarperCollins $26.95 (460p) ISBN 978-0-06-009362-4
Open Ebook - 496 pages - 978-0-06-163031-6
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 496 pages - 978-0-06-163034-7
Ebook - 496 pages - 978-0-06-163035-4
Paperback - 460 pages - 978-0-06-050512-7
Ebook - 496 pages - 978-0-06-184764-6
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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. Agent, Katinka Matson. (Oct. 5)

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