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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Best Seller

In the century after the Civil War, an economic revolution improved the American standard of living in ways previously unimaginable. Electric lighting, indoor plumbing, home appliances, motor vehicles, air travel, air conditioning, and television transformed households and workplaces. With medical advances, life expectancy between 1870 and 1970 grew from 45 to 72 years. Weaving together a vivid narrative, historical anecdotes, and economic analysis, The Rise and Fall of American Growth provides an in-depth account of this momentous era. But has that era of unprecedented growth come to an end?

Gordon challenges the view that economic growth can or will continue unabated, and he demonstrates that the life-altering scale of innovations between 1870 and 1970 can't be repeated. He contends that the nation's productivity growth, which has already slowed to a crawl, will be further held back by the vexing headwinds of rising inequality, stagnating education, an aging population, and the rising debt of college students and the federal government. Gordon warns that the younger generation may be the first in American history that fails to exceed their parents' standard of living, and that rather than depend on the great advances of the past, we must find new solutions to overcome the challenges facing us.

A critical voice in the debates over economic stagnation, The Rise and Fall of American Growth is at once a tribute to a century of radical change and a harbinger of tougher times to come.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2016 Princeton University Press (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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The book is a great review of how we got to where we are today

I loved the review of the industrial revolution and learning where various technological changes came from. His suggestions of how to increase American growth seemed pretty standard though. I was disappointed with that. It seemed like he just phoned in that part of the book. We've heard all those recommendations before. The book is worth the time though.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Excellent Book, Too many charts for listening

I enjoyed this book, particularly the comparisons of life in the US before and after 1870.There are too many charts and numbers in this book to always allow one to only listen. Book was written to be read "in person" with numbers and charts available for viewing and reviewing. The performance was technically well done, but somehow off-putting and slightly irritating. Still all in all I listened to the entire book and am happy that I bought it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Over-detailed, with no engaging message

What disappointed you about The Rise and Fall of American Growth?

If you are looking to get a critical, deep and informed view of american economy in last century, you should look for another book. This book is not the type that will leave you with any food for thought.

For instance the book goes literally pages and pages throwing an absurd amount of numbers, dates, percentages,... to just show how AC units become smaller and lighter in a period of two decades. A simple fact like this needs only one sentence or two, and then the reader is ready to get the writers message, if there is any. What happens with this book is that reader (listener) goes on and on trying to focus on long paragraphs of chart description and numbers and dates, waiting for the writer to sum it up and get to a conclusion, a view point or a critical thought on the issue, only to get disappointed.

The only message that the author has (and he iterates it over and over in different chapters) is this: The growth (in other words improvement in people's lives) has been huge in 20th century because the departure point was near zero, so any increase felt huge, but now that we are fairly advanced it is almost impossible to come up with such growth ( such improvement in people's lives) in such a short amount of time. For example, in a matter of 2 decades in early 1900s, flush toilets came to nearly all houses and that dramatically improved life expectancy (say 5 years) by eliminating water borne diseases. But now in 2000s if we want to increase life expectancy by same 5 years (having same "growth") it is not as easy as making a toilet, now we have to do cancer research instead.

I basically doubt if this is an important or valuable point of view anyways, but even if it was, it could be well developed in a 3 page article and did not need a 700+ page book.

This book is only good for you if you love details of how people lived in early 20th century, how daily tasks were done, how people worked, what the wore, what they ate...and so forth. but if you are looking for food for thought, you will be disappointed.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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good book. OK audio book.

love economics and hearing about how the world has changed in the past 100 years. this book does rely on lots of charts and graphs so the listener is often lost following along but over all worth a listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Dry, but informative

To be honest, this book is tough to get through. Even though it covers a subject I have a lot of interest in, I must have started and finished at least ten other books between the time I started this one, and the day I finally finished it.

He gets 4 stars for his excellent job compiling data, but his conclusions are iffy, and he stepped outside of his expertise with some speculation a few times (e.g. diet comments stuck out to me). Conservative economist Deirdre McCloskey said in and interview that, "Bob Gordon lost his mind," in reference to this book. That doesn't mean he is wrong, but you can guess where his conclusions lean.

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Pronunciation

What didn’t you like about Michael Butler Murray’s performance?

There were an awful lot of words mispronounced, over and over. "Inexorably", for example. It's as if the narrator and the editor had never heard them. Once I noticed, it was hard to do anything except anticipate the next one.

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Needs an abridged version.

This was an interesting concept and extremely well researched. I'm glad that this book exists. However, unless you are way nerdy about this sort of thing, you will wish that there was a shorter version. I feel like the argument could have been made for the laymen in half the time or less. Thankfully I could just advance the track by 30 seconds whenever it got into the weeds too much. Great book, unfortunately no one will read it since it's so darn long.

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  • Juan
  • Florida
  • 08-14-17

Buttresses Piketti's Capital in the 21st Century

1% growth is the future of America's economy. This book gave really detailed accounts of this fact.

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A must for all Damn it !

Damn we have done a lot in America.
Thank you for doing this book. Again Thank you.

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Read this (but don't listen to it)

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

No way; though I would certainly recommend they *read* this as a print book. Too many charts, graphs, and data sets to be able to coherently follow on audio, especially if you're driving or really doing anything other than visualizing the graphs they're discussing.

If you could give The Rise and Fall of American Growth a new subtitle, what would it be?

Why It's Time to Reset Future Expectations and Reframe Past Understandings

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  • carla
  • 11-15-17

Good book; monotonous reading

The book is very interesting, amazingly full of facts and interesting descriptions, although one may disagree with the interpretation.
As to the narration,why must the person read as if they were imitating a computer? is that Audible policy?
But my biggest complaint is that you offer a pdf with all the graphs and tables referred to in the book, but I have not been able to download it. Where is it available? Who knows!