American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900 by H. W. Brands

By H. W. Brands

In a grand-scale narrative heritage, the bestselling writer of 2 finalists for the Pulitzer Prize now captures the a long time whilst capitalism was once at its so much unbridled and some breathtakingly filthy rich businessmen totally remodeled the USA from an agrarian economic system to an international strength.

The years among the Civil conflict and the tip of the 19th century observed the wholesale transformation of the US from a land of small farmers and small businessmen into an business great. pushed via unfathomably filthy rich and strong businessmen like J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, armies of employees, either female and male, have been harnessed to a brand new imaginative and prescient of big undefined. A society rooted within the soil grew to become one dependent in towns, and legions of immigrants have been interested in American beaches. What’s extra, in attaining its revolution, capitalism threatened to eclipse American democracy. “What do I care concerning the law?” bellowed Cornelius Vanderbilt. “Hain’t I received the power?” He did, and with it he and the opposite capitalists reshaped each point of yankee existence. In American Colossus, H.W. manufacturers portrays the emergence, in a remarkably little while, of a recognizably sleek the US.

The capitalist revolution left no longer a unmarried zone or element of yank existence untouched. It roared around the South, wrenching that area from its feudal prior and integrating the southern economic system into the nationwide one. It burst over the West, dictating the destruction of local American economies and peoples, using the exploitation of normal assets, and making the frontier of cost a company frontier besides. It crashed around the city panorama of the East and North, turning towns into engines of wealth and poverty, opulence and squalor. It swamped the politics of an past period, shooting one significant occasion and 1/2 the opposite, inspiring the construction of a 3rd occasion and picking out the problems over which all 3 waged many of the bitterest battles in American background.

Brands’s spellbinding narrative superbly depicts the oil gushers of western Pennsylvania, the increase, in Chicago, of the 1st skyscraper, the exploration of the Colorado River, the livestock drives of the West, and the early passionate sparks of union lifestyles. via 1900 the the US he portrays is wealthier than ever, but prosperity is precarious, inequality rampant, and democracy stretched skinny. American Colossus is an unforgettable portrait of the years whilst the competition among capitalism and democracy used to be at its sharpest, and capitalism triumphed.

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Extra resources for American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900

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3 For Hatcher and Bailey, Brenner’s application of historical materialism is one of the least convincing. They argue that he belongs to an older Marxist tradition constituted by Maurice Dobb and Evgeny Kosminsky which mistakenly equates feudalism with serfdom, and locates the instability and collapse of feudalism ‘almost exclusively’ in the struggle for rent and the destructive exploitation of the unfree peasantry. They assert that the strength of the argument of this old defunct Marxism derives directly from its simplicity which is achieved by denying the significance of economic and demographic forces, and by focusing selectively on particular components of the feudal system.

310. 32 chapter 1 occupiers with 16–18 hectares were subjected to competitive production and forced to specialise and invest in increased labour productivity. Thus the unintended consequence of the reclamation of the peat lands by peasants engaging in feudal rules of reproduction was for these peasants to transform themselves into capitalist farmers, and for the surplus population to become wage-earning proletarians. At the same time, from the second half of the fourteenth century, large towns developed in this region for the first time: Unlike anywhere else in Europe, the subjection of the agricultural producers to dependence on the market and the rise of a large market dependent population involved in trade and industry in towns occurred to a very large extent as part of a single process of agrarian transformation.

In his early paper in 1976 Brenner had criticised demographic historians by arguing that their theory of historical causation simply replaced the Smithian ‘key variable’ of the rise of the market with their own population-resource driven demographic cycles. While doing so they either rejected class as a concept, or treated it as a dependent variable. Critics, including those same historians who used to privilege demographic fluctuations in historical causation, accuse Brenner of doing the same with what they regard as his own ‘key variable’ of class and class struggle.

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