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Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United Statesby Michael Lind
Synopses & Reviews
From one of Americas leading intellectuals comes a sweeping and original work of economic history, recounting the epic story of Americas rise to become the worlds dominant economy.
In Land of Promise, bestselling author Michael Lind provides a groundbreaking account of how a weak collection of former British colonies became an industrial, financial, and military colossus. From the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries, the American economy has been transformed by wave after wave of emerging technology: the steam engine, electricity, the internal combustion engine, computer technology. Yet technology-driven change leads to growing misalignment between an innovative economy and anachronistic legal and political structures until the gap is closed by the modernization of America's institutions—often amid upheavals such as the Civil War and Reconstruction and the Great Depression and World War II.
Against the dramatic backdrop of shattering tides of change, Land of Promise portrays the struggles and achievements of inventors like Thomas Edison and Samuel Morse; entrepreneurs like Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs; financiers like J. P. Morgan; visionary political leaders like Henry Clay and Franklin Roosevelt; and dynamic policy makers like Alexander Hamilton and Vannevar Bush. Larger-than-life figures such as these share the stage with the ordinary Americans who built a superpower, from midwestern farmers, southern slaves, and the immigrants who created canals and railroads to the sisters of Rosie the Riveter, whose labor in factories during World War II helped to end Hitler's dream of world domination.
When the U.S. economy has flourished, Lind argues, government and business, labor and universities, have worked together as partners in a never-ending project of economic nation building. As the United States struggles to emerge from the Great Recession, Land of Promise demonstrates that Americans, since the earliest days of the republic, have reinvented the American economy—and have the power to do so again.
"Lind (Vietnam: The Necessary War) delivers a conventional story of America's technological transformation in parallel with an imaginative account of the 200-year tug-of-war between Alexander Hamilton's and Thomas Jefferson's economic philosophies. Lind, cofounder of the New America Foundation, prefers Hamilton's vision of an activist central government that, he argues, produces economic growth. But that theory enjoyed only spotty success after 1800 and none after Andrew Jackson rejected it. It revived with Lincoln's support of railroads, national banking, and a tariff-based import system. Jeffersonian laissez-faire returned, but, the author points out, even the Jeffersonians supported government intervention in favor of small businesses. Lind hails the New Deal era from FDR through Nixon as a Hamiltonian triumph during which the economy mushroomed, middle-class mass consumerism appeared, and poverty plummeted. Carter and Reagan began the Jeffersonian reaction: antigovernment rhetoric accompanied by deregulation. Instead of a flourishing free market, says Lind, the result has been not productive industry but wage stagnation, crumbling infrastructure, and a sluggish economy driven by boom-and-bust speculation and rising debt. The coda offers a prescription for how the next Hamiltonian cycle should fix matters, but asserts that Jeffersonianism rules today. Lind paints a vivid if dismal picture." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A sweeping and original work of economic history by Michael Lind, one of Americas leading intellectuals, Land of Promise recounts the epic story of Americas rise to become the worlds dominant economy. As ideological free marketers continue to square off against Keynesians in Congress and the press, economic policy remains at the center of political debate.
Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States offers a much-needed historical framework that sheds new light on our past—wisdom that offers lessons essential to our future. Building upon the strength and lucidity of his New York Times Notable Books The Next American Nation and Hamiltons Republic, Lind delivers a necessary and revelatory examination of the roots of American prosperity—insight that will prove invaluable to anyone interested in exploring how we can move forward.
About the Author
Michael Lind is cofounder of the New America Foundation and policy director of its Economic Growth Program. Mr. Lind's first three books of political journalism and history—The Next American Nation: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution, Up from Conservatism: Why the Right Is Wrong for America, and Vietnam: The Necessary War—were all selected as New York Times Notable Books. With Ted Halstead, he is coauthor of The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics. Mr. Lind has taught at Harvard University and Johns Hopkins, and he writes frequently for the Financial Times, the New York Times, Democracy, and other publications. He has appeared on C-SPAN, National Public Radio, CNN, the Business News Network, PBS's NewsHour, and other programs. He has a weekly column in Salon.
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