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Capitalism in America

A History
Narrated by: Ray Porter
Length: 16 hrs and 14 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (260 ratings)
Regular price: $34.95
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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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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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.

4 of 4 people found this review 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 .

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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comprehensive and unbiased.

this is a broad historical text with highly detailed descriptions of some of the most interesting periods in American capitalism.

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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.

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  • Max
  • United States
  • 02-16-19

nice

the author makes a decent effort to provide measures that are meaningful for readers, such as fold change, percent change, value adjusted for inflation, but still, the text is polluted by many obscure units and numbers, for example, the absolute price without adjustment for inflation has no value for the listener, it is just noise. lots of meaningless numbers.

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Great Look at US Economic History

Great book spends a lot of time on the great accomplishments of American Entrepreneurs, the political battles that brought to where we are today. Sort of like one long thread but history certainly does repeat itself.

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Fast-paced, impersonal and enriching

Capitalism in America as read is a fast paced, impersonal narration of the economic history of America and the evolution of the noble concept called ‘Capitalism’ with anecdotes and milestones covered. A page-turner of its kind that will enrich your information bank adding to your memory so your neurons can think why things are the way they appear now and extend your thinking to assess what will happen as you extrapolate. Crib free to a great extent and avoid maligning personalities in general (with few exceptions)

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Capitalism in America

A extraordinarily well written clear and concise history of the force of creative destruction ensured the economic development of the United States.

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Great account of capitalism in America

The authors give a historical account of capitalism in America. They go through it’s evolution by analyzing several key time periods in American history. The book finally concludes by begging the question of whether or not capitalism can reach an inflection point in a society where it begins to have diseconomies of scale.

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Interesting at times, great reading.

There were a lot of stats and figures that can be difficult to digest at the rate they are given. There are some portions where a more technical understanding of markets and the economy would be useful. Coming from a biologist.