Wednesday, August 01, 2007

An Empire of Wealth

That's the title of economic historian John Steele Gordon's most recent book. (The subtitle is "The Epic History of American Economic Power.") I got over my own recent economic jitteriness this weekend to actually part with some money and buy a copy, and I have not been disappointed.

How could one feel disappointment after reading anything by Gordon, anyway? I mean, the guy is such an optimist. And, I guess when you approach history from a broad perspective, it's hard not to be optimistic about the good old USofA.

Gordon has good credentials both as an optimist and an economic historian. Both of his grandfathers held seats on the NYSE, and he is buddies with Steve Forbes. Some consider his works the literary descendants of Andrew Carnegie's Triumphant Democracy.

Gordon's critics will charge that he glosses over the stumbles we've had as a nation, and perhaps they have some merit. Indeed, he concludes his ringing endorsement with the events surrounding 9/11, reminding Americans (and the rest of the world) that wars are won by money, not guns alone. And, we have more wealth in the US than anywhere else.

I wonder if he will add a post-9/11 appendix in the next edition of this book, dealing not only with the impacts of the War on Terror, the hurricanes of 2004-5, and the impending credit crunch . . .

Anyway, great book. And, if you socks out there enjoy it as much as I have, you might want to check out some of Gordon's other books:

  • Overlanding - which recounts a landrover trip he took from NYC to Tierra del Fuego.

  • The Scarlet Woman - a history of a whorish Wall Street during the Civil War era.

  • Hamilton's Blessing - in which he exalts our first Secretary of the Treasury for embracing the idea of a national debt as a unifying force.

  • The Great Game - an overview of Wall Street history from 1653 to 2000.

Of course, if you really want to read a good book, I can recommend a true masterpiece . . .

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