American Colossus: Book summary and reviews of American Colossus by H.W. Brands

American Colossus

The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900

by H.W. Brands

American Colossus

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Book Summary

The three decades after the Civil War saw a wholesale shift in American life, and the cause was capitalism. Driven by J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and oth­ers like them, armies of men and women were harnessed to a new vision of massive industry. A society rooted in the soil became one based in cities, and legions of immigrants were drawn to American shores.

H. W. Brands’s American Colossus portrays the stunning trans­formation of the landscape and institutions of American life in these years. Brands charts the rise of Wall Street, the growth of a national economy, the building of the railroads, and the first sparks of union life. By 1900, America was wealthier than ever, yet prosperity was precarious, inequality rampant, and democ­racy stretched thin. A populist backlash stirred.

American Colossus is an unforgettable portrait of the years when a recognizably modern America first took shape.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Perhaps the only significant omission in this fast-paced, engrossing narrative is a tendency to dwell on political doctrines... while only briefly discussing the dogma of ... social Darwinism, which favored the monopolists." - Publishers Weekly

"An educational, briskly written pseudo-textbook aimed at readers outside university classrooms." - Kirkus

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Author Information

H.W. Brands Author Biography

Henry William Brands was born in Portland, Oregon, where he lived until he went to California for college. He attended Stanford University and studied history and mathematics.

After graduating he became a traveling salesman, with a territory that spanned the West from the Pacific to Colorado. His wanderlust diminished after several trips across the Great Basin, and he turned to sales of a different sort, namely teaching. For nine years he taught mathematics and history in high school and community college. Meanwhile he resumed his formal education, earning graduate degrees in mathematics and history, concluding with a doctorate in history from the University of Texas at ...

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