Synopses & Reviews
In the thirty years after the Civil War, the United States blew by Great Britain to become the greatest economic power in world history. That is a well-known period in history, when titans like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and J.P. Morgan walked the earth.
But as Charles R. Morris shows us, the platform for that spectacular growth spurt was built in the first half of the century. By the 1820s, America was already the world’s most productive manufacturer, and the most intensely commercialized society in history. The War of 1812 jumpstarted the great New England cotton mills, the iron centers in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and the forges around the Great Lakes. In the decade after the War, the Midwest was opened by entrepreneurs. In this beautifully illustrated book, Morris paints a vivid panorama of a new nation buzzing with the work of creation. He also points out the parallels and differences in the nineteenth century American/British standoff and that between China and America today.
"As financial writer and historian Morris (The Tycoons) makes clear in his latest book, the perfect storm of universal white male suffrage along with the evolutionary perfection of mechanized, large-scale industry, and the strength of an active and influential middle class helped usher the United States to the forefront of economic prosperity at the dawn of the 20th century. While historians have already sewn these large themes together, Morris seeks to highlight the individuals who brought about the revolution, their mechanical inventions, innovations, and technological processes from firearms to meat-packing to plows that drove America out of the shadow of Great Britain's industrial dominance. Often bogged down by too much detail and some clunky, modern-day analogies (he compares newly inexpensive paper to crack cocaine), Morris nevertheless breezes the reader through America's industrial trajectory, beginning in the 1820s, toward a mass-consumption society. Arguably Morris's analysis shines brightest in the final chapter as he compares the United States' past economic growth with the current hyper-expansion of China. Only then, by examining the hurdles China faces in its ascendance to economic superpower, does Morris show how truly innovative the transformation of America was and why it will be impossible to repeat in the future. Illus. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“The author is at his best when he focuses on the people behind the technology…. Morris’ research is thorough…. Ambitious.”
A Daily Beast Favorite Book of the Year
A Wall Street Journal Best Business Book of the Year
The author is at his best when he focuses on the people behind the technology
. Morris research is thorough
Paul Steiger, editor-in-chief of ProPublica and former managing editor of the Wall Street Journal
Charles Morris, fast becoming our leading narrative historian of economic success and scandals, tells how nineteenth-century America outproduced, outmarketed, outdistributedand stole technology fromthe former No. 1 power, Great Britain, to displace it on the world stage. The fascinating tale also holds crucial lessons for Americans as China races to unseat the U.S. as the world leader.”
Charles H. Ferguson, director of Inside Job and author of Predator Nation
A fascinating book that pulls together the strands of American development into a sweeping and vivid account of the nations rise to economic preeminence. Charles Morris has a special gift for making complicated subjects accessible and even entertaining.”
BooklistAn unprecedented 3.9 percent average annual rate of economic growthsustained for more than a centurypropelled the U.S. to global economic leadership. Morris chronicles the remarkable story behind the remarkable number
Morris concludes with a provocative comparison of the nineteenth-century duel pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and todays rivalry between China and the U.S. Economic history freighted with social and political relevance.”
USA TodayMorris obviously possesses an inquiring mind
. [He] explicates
PublishersWeekly.comMorris's analysis shines brightest in the final chapter as he compares the United States' past economic growth with the current hyper-expansion of China. Only then, by examining the hurdles China faces in its ascendance to economic superpower, does Morris show how truly innovative the transformation of America was and why it will be impossible to repeat in the future.”
Tyler Cowen, New York Times Magazine, One-Page MagazineThe early 19th century as a pep talk for today.”
John Steele Gordon, Wall Street Journal[A]n illuminating narrative that shows, among much else, what happened when Yankee ingenuity met the Industrial Revolution
. Post-Civil War industrialization had an important and largely overlooked predecessor in the first decades of the 19th century. It is a story well worth telling, and Mr. Morris tells it well
. The author's in-text illustrations and diagrams are very helpful in showing the cleverness and ingenuity of mechanisms designed by such forgotten giants as the clockmaker Eli Terry, the gun maker Thomas Blanchard and the steam-engine designer George H. Corliss. Mr. Morris's deft character sketches bring them to life as well. The steam engine powered the steamboat and the railroad, which knitted the country together into one huge common market, allowing industrial economies of scale that would, in the later 19th century, astonish the world
Civil EngineeringIn an elegantly written assessment of how the current situation is likeand unlikeits 19th-century analogue, Morris flashes the knowledge and insight that landed him on the Council on Foreign Relations and crafts an effective coda for his paean to American innovation.”
Michael Lind, New York Times Book ReviewTo the often-told story of Americas initial industrial development, Morris adds fresh data and insightful revisions. He begins The Dawn of Innovation with a fascinating account of how the rivalry of the early United States and Britain to dominate the Great Lakes produced a shipbuilders war that helped trigger industrial development here
. [Morris] is persuasive in arguing that America grew so rich so rapidly in part because it was largely born free.”
"[Morris] provides an engaging account of the remarkable technologies, businesses, and distribution systems that developed across the continent"
From the bestselling author of The Trillion Dollar Meltdown and The Tycoons comes the fascinating, panoramic story of the rise of American industry between the War of 1812 and the Civil War
In the first few decades of the nineteenth century, America went from being a largely rural economy, with little internal transportation infrastructure, to a fledgling industrial powerhousesetting the stage for the vast fortunes that would be made in the golden age of American capitalism. In The Dawn of Innovation, Charles R. Morris vividly brings to life a time when three stupendous American innovationsuniversal male suffrage, the shift of political power from elites to the middle classes, and a broad commitment to mechanized mass-productiongave rise to the worlds first democratic, middle-class, mass-consumption society, a shining beacon to nations and peoples ever since. Behind that ideal were the machines, the men, and the trading and transportation networks that created a new, world-class economic power.
About the Author
Charles R. Morris has written twelve books, including The Coming Global Boom, a New York Times Notable Book of 1990; The Tycoons, a Barron's Best Book of 2005; and The Trillion Dollar Meltdown, winner of the Gerald Loeb Award and a New York Times Bestseller. A lawyer and former banker, Mr. Morris’s articles and reviews have appeared in many publications including the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.