American Colossus

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

H. W. Brands’ history of America in the Gilded Age takes as its leitmotif the struggle between the forces of democracy and capitalism. Capitalism, as the subtitle indicates, won. But the title is also a bit misleading, as what Brands provides is a general survey of the U.S. during the period, from settling the West to Imperial ambitions abroad, and not just an account of corporate scandals and the rise of corporate titans like Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Morgan. Good coverage of all the historical highlights, but doesn’t offer a particularly fresh take on any of the subjects it deals with.

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