This work, purportedly about the election of 1800, actually spends less than 1/4 of its length on the election & the various machinations associated with same. That is a good thing. Rather, it reviews, superficially yet very powerfully, the forces that in the years after 1776 brought forth the Federalists, anti-Federalists & Jeffersonian Republicans, as well as the sideward glance at the first glimmerings of a "political machine" in the hands of Aaron Burr. It is this interpretation of the 2 decades running up to the election that makes the election crystal-clear. This book also has outstanding narration. Someone who speaks with emphasis & doesn't have to be suffered through. The only weakness of the book, frankly, is the short section that follows the events of the elections, which treads on very well worn ground (Burr's post 1800 shenanigans, Hamilton, Jefferson/Adams correspondence) & does not add anything substantial to the record here. A very small complaint. It still deserves 5 stars in by book.
The Company is a must-read book for anyone enmeshed in corporate America (or corporate-anywhere) because it explains how we got here, as organization-man and why we are organized in the way we are. The institution of the stock company stretches back for a thousand years or more, but the recognizable roots are back in the 1600s and 1700s. Micklethwait & Wooldridge bring this otherwise dusty history alive for us, showing the reader that the organizational challenges we face today in a corporatist society are not new, and that solutions to problems we believe are unique to ourselves have been found in other situations and other eras. I felt that this book gave me great perspective on the organization I work in and about the organizations we regulate and serve. It was useful as an intellectual diversion but also as something I can use to help guide my work in my everyday job.
The prospective reader need not be wary of this being some very very long article out of the Harvard Business Review or a more popular business magazine like the Economist (where the two authors are employed). This book uses history intertwined with interesting anecdote to keep this story interesting throughout.
Not everything about this audiobook was perfect. This book may not have been ideally suited to be conveyed in audio form because of its density of detail. To help myself along, I borrowed the hardbound volume from the library, and skimmed it in segments interspersed with listening. I don?t think I would have read the book had I not encountered this volume on Audible, but neither would I have been able to absorb it to my own satisfaction without the crutch of the hardbound book. Others with more familiarity with the subject matter may be able to do without this crutch.
I recommend the book highly to those seriously interested in the institutions we take for granted that are all around us.
OK, this is not serious, footnoted analytical history, of the kind I like to read (or tell myself "it is good for me"), but that kind of history doesn't often lend itself to good audio-listening. American Lightning does. It recovers the biography of the Burns detective agency, a story I did not know, it does a nice recounting of the wave of "anarchist" and organized labor bombings of symbols of capitalism in the first decade of the 20th century, including how famed lawyer Clarence Darrow got intertwined with it. And it (less successfully) incorporates the roots of the modern movie business in New York & S California in that period too.
The book is well-written & very well-read. It passes by as if effortlessly as an audiobook, although I suspect it would be more annoying to read due to some of its organizational jumpiness.
I recommend it very highly. Both for itself and, if it tickles your interest further, in directing the reader to learn more about the three protagonists in other books elsewhere.