Capitalism in America

A History
Narrated by: Ray Porter
Length: 16 hrs and 14 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (595 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the legendary former Fed Chairman and the acclaimed Economist writer and historian, the full, epic story of America's evolution from a small patchwork of threadbare colonies to the most powerful engine of wealth and innovation the world has ever seen.

From even the start of his fabled career, Alan Greenspan was duly famous for his deep understanding of even the most arcane corners of the American economy and his restless curiosity to know even more. He has made a science of understanding how the US economy works almost as a living organism - how it grows and changes, surges and stalls. He has made a particular study of the question of productivity growth, at the heart of which is the riddle of innovation. Where does innovation come from and how does it spread through a society? And why do some eras see the fruits of innovation spread more democratically and others, including our own, see the opposite?

In Capitalism in America, Greenspan distills a lifetime of grappling with these questions into a thrilling and profound master reckoning with the decisive drivers of the US economy over the course of its history. In partnership with the celebrated Economist journalist and historian Adrian Wooldridge, he unfolds a tale involving vast landscapes, titanic figures, triumphant breakthroughs, enlightenment ideals, as well as terrible moral failings. Every crucial debate is here - from the role of slavery in the antebellum Southern economy to the real impact of FDR's New Deal to America's violent mood swings in its openness to global trade and its impact. But to listen to this audiobook is above all to be stirred deeply by the extraordinary productive energies unleashed by millions of ordinary Americans that have driven this country to unprecedented heights of power and prosperity. 

At heart, America's genius has been its unique tolerance for the effects of creative destruction, the ceaseless churn of the old giving way to the new, driven by new people and new ideas. Often messy and painful, creative destruction has also lifted almost all Americans to standards of living unimaginable to even the wealthiest citizens of the world a few generations past. A sense of justice and human decency demands that those who bear the brunt of the pain of change be protected, but America has always accepted more pain for more gain, and its rise cannot otherwise be understood, or its challenges faced, without recognizing this legacy. 

For now, in our time, productivity growth has stalled again, stirring up the populist furies. There's no better moment to apply the lessons of history to the most pressing question we face, that of whether the US will preserve its preeminence or see its leadership pass to other, inevitably less democratic powers.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2018 Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“This book snaps, crackles, and pops.... Three themes are highlighted - productivity as the measure of economic progress; the ‘Siamese twins of creation and destruction’ as the sources of productivity growth; and the political reaction to the consequences of creative destruction.... Readers will emerge from this heady blend of economic, business, and political history with a sense of exhilaration that so much of the American experience could be described so vividly and insightfully.” (Financial Times, one of the Best Books of The Year in Economics)

Capitalism in America makes a strong case, with some wonderful insights into business history. Innovation, spread to the masses, is indeed the engine of capitalist economies.” (The Economist)

"A masterful guide to capitalism American style.... You don’t have to be an economics wonk to enjoy and learn from Capitalism in America.” (The Washington Times)

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THIS BOOK IS A MUST-READ

Loved this book! Although the subject is complicated, I did not struggle with it one bit. The book is thoroughly researched, well-written, and easy to understand. The narrator, Ray Porter was superb. I was intrigued with the subject when I saw a C-span review of the book. I was curious about the verbiage "creative destruction" and I wanted to know more. You know how they say that a book can change your outlook in life; this is such a book. If one wants a better understanding of our current political situation, this book is a must-read. I disagree with some aspects of the book. Some important subjects were barely touched upon, such as the negative aspects of capitalism. All in all, like I said before, the book is must-read.

4 people found this helpful

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More nuanced than given credit for

Reviews I read of this book prior to listening to it hand a tendency to write it off as a paean to capitalism. It does advance the (credible) idea that the global capitalist order has been the most successful mechanism of raising the standard of living of Americans and people globally. It provides a really thorough economic look at where America has been and where it might go. At times, Mr. Greenspan is a little soft on things, people, or situations. He is less partisan than one might expect, for instance his statistics on post-WWII Presidents and the deficit/debt are illuminating in the way they are presented (with respect to how Mr. Reagan compared with all post-war presidents and reminding us of the immense progress made during the Clinton presidency, and that the US was, 20 years ago, at a point where it was convening a task force to discuss a monetary system that was not debt backed). The tail end of the book does offer clear warnings, although here, the nuance of his argument to deregulate (with caveats such as requiring banks to carry higher capitalization rates) is much more limited. Overall, Mr. Greenspan was a tremendous servant to our country and our economy, and this is a book worth one's time.

The narration is of excellent quality.

8 people found this helpful

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Greenspan is Greenspan

Best US economy history lesson I have ever learned; A great start for 2019. We are all adventures, seeking a fortune or making a name. So inspiring for me as an immigrant. If not us, who; If not now, when? Nice.

3 people found this helpful

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Very good overview and explanation of economic development in USA since its founding

The book is obviously reflecting the economic and political philosophy of Mr Greenspan.

It is convincing and leaves readers with an understanding of the political challenge America has to face in order to remain at the pinnacle as the Worlds premier economic and political power, with its citizens continuing to experience improved standard of living.

7 people found this helpful

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Easy to understand yet compelling

Easy to understand yet compelling view of American history and what created our success. I was able to follow without the charts used in the book.

5 people found this helpful

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A quintessential defense

Given the populist embrace of democratic socialism, this book is a historical reminder of the virtues of American capitalism. It enters the political conversation at an opportune time and is a worthy and readable defense of the economic theories and other principles underlying the nation's meteoric rise in the world, the gumptious and redoubtable entrepreneurial spirit, and the quality of life it has produced in the country .

9 people found this helpful

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Love America more after listening to this book...

Example to the world about how to create a great nation. Nothing was free or granted for the great Americans who set up the engines of each heart to create the USA of today.

1 person found this helpful

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Greenspan has great insight

Alan Greenspan is uniquely qualified tell the tale capitalism in America. from inside the bubble Greenspan challenges us to accept the creative destruction caused by capitalism and accept its fate. This book is full of deep insight told in a straightforward manner. Most of the book deals with the age following the Civil War to the end of WWII, So if you're looking for further analysis on current banking schemes and it's effect on modern capitalism, you should look elsewhere, as Greenspan doesn't dive into every minutiae the financial crisis and it's lingering effect. Which, makes for a much better read in my opinion. Michael Lewis is out there for that information.

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The history of the US via Capitalism

A thorough analysis of US economics. The title says it all. This book is both a history and an analysis of US Economic History. It also reproaches our current path and offers solutions going forward.

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Great book!

One of the best books I have ever read on American history and our development of capitalism as we know it. Mr. Greenspan has explained how and why we are where we are in terms of the economy.

1 person found this helpful