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The Lords of Creation

Narrated by: William Hope
Length: 17 hrs and 1 min
4.5 out of 5 stars (72 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An acclaimed classic detailing the economic history of America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and exposing the capitalist giants who changed the world. Frederick Lewis Allen’s insightful financial history of the United States - from the late 1800s through the stock market collapse of 1929 - remains a seminal work on what brought on America’s worst economic disaster: the Great Depression. In the decades following the Civil War, America entered an era of unprecedented corporate expansion, with ultimate financial power in the hands of a few wealthy industrialists who exploited the capitalist system for everything it was worth. The Rockefellers, Fords, Morgans, and Vanderbilts were the "lords of creation" who, along with like-minded magnates, controlled the economic destiny of the country, unrestrained by regulations or moral imperatives. Through a combination of foresight, ingenuity, ruthlessness, and greed, America’s giants of industry remolded the US economy in their own preferred image. In so doing, they established their absolute power and authority, ensuring that they - and they alone - would control the means of production, transportation, energy, and commerce - thereby setting the stage for the most devastating global financial collapse in history.

As Gretchen Morgenson thoughtfully states in her introduction, "It is not immediately clear why the frequency and severity of financial scandals is increasing in the United States. What is clear is that we need to understand the origins of these disasters, as well as the policies and people that bring them on.... While distant actions may seem unrelated to current events, rereading about the past almost always provides surprising insights into the present."

©1935 Frederick Lewis Allen (P)2014 Audible Inc.

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  • Philo
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 10-30-18

Brisk, listenable tale of big $, Gilded Age to 30s

I mean to say, of about a dozen books in and around this subject I have read or heard, this is far and away the most brisk and listenable one. As story-telling, it is head and shoulders above all others. It manages to portray the deals and situations any number of supposedly sophisticated and complex books fail to do. The author takes a balanced view, sometimes chiding the captains of industry and finance, sometime acknowledging their contributions. The narratives are both true, I think, and it is brilliantly dealt with. The occasional commentary never spoils the great energy and clarity of these tales. The details and the characters are fantastic, and fleshed out so well. One can watch the USA being framed up and built here, yes, the USA, whether we despise it or not, we use constantly for our own advantage. Here is the ancestry of all the streets, infrastructure, and conveniences I see daily here, on the West Coast. It didn't just spring into being, it was done by people as are described here, sometimes with guile and ruthlessness. The pacing is masterful, each business move well-described. The book never bogs down, as more academic style tomes (like its cousin in subject-matter, Railroaded, in the catalog here, sometimes does, getting lost in its own academic complexities and themes). This one does not attempt to superimpose some pretentious super-abstract conceptual framework on things. It just keeps diving back in, to colorful tales and adventures, with just enough business, finance and economics neatly spiced in, to make it a smart story, yet understandable to most anyone, and an entertaining one. Now, on a more technical level, when the author does critique these capitalists' doings as bad, he comes fundamentally from what we now call a stakeholder approach. However, the author can see the alternate view now called the shareholder value school, and its virtues. This 1930s (I think?) author was living and writing in tghe times of the worst failure of capitalism in the USA, all of which is detailed in my favorite telling ever heard, so lucid and understandable and well-paced. This title goes to the top of my business history stack, and it is a very large stack, to date.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Must read, historical perspective

Wonderful examination of the history of high finance and it’s real influence on the American economy and hence the American people.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Ideas of power...

The start of unchallenged ideas yet still continues... A train wreck concerning men of power.

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An absolute 'must read'

Answers many of your questions about 'what is wrong with America' and the world. Explains why the best country the world has ever seen is polarized and 'how' God was replaced with $$$

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Forgotten mistakes of the past

Maybe a bit too much backround on everything. But this is truly an eye opener. Scary how well this bit of history fits into the times at hand.

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  • Iro
  • San Antonio, TX
  • 12-11-15

Enlightening

If all this is true, then what else is possible? Great info, too much side story sometimes.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful