Free American Colossus: The Triumph Of Capitalism, 1865-1900 Book Review Sample
The book “American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900,” is one of the most important literary works that explains about the transformation of the United States into a supreme power post the American Civil War. In his book, author H. W. Brands gives an account of how America was able to achieve the status of the most technically advanced country in the world in terms of production and economy. He portrays a broad picture of America, focusing on the growth of economy in a social and political context. While America was importing steel from Britain in 1860, the country was able to produce steel and export it to Germany and Britain at profitable rates by 1900 . The book explains about how the Civil War fostered America with new demands for various industrial products, such as railroad rails, gun powder, rolling stock, uniforms and thousands of industrial products.
The book describes the transformation of the Wall Street from one of the minor players in the world market to the second largest global financial market. The major reason for the inclusion of the term “Colossus” in the book’s title is the expanding capitalism of America through its flourishing industrial base. It was during the 1860s that the United States saw the evolution of modern capitalism . The period also saw the formulation of rules and policies by the government to prevent the growth of plutocracy in the country. The book states about the invention of new accounting tools in order to manage the finances of the emerging enterprises in an efficient way. By the end of the Civil, there was not even a single company listed in the stock exchange of New York; however, by 1900, the stock exchange saw hundreds of companies employing numerous workers.
While the corporations were unite, the workers failed to cooperate in the labor negotiations leading to a series of strikes, such as the Homestead and Pullman strikes . Author Brands gives a detailed description of the attempt of assassination on Henry Clay Frick, a famous industrialist of the nineteenth century. Similarly, the railroads, which were the largest industry of America, had a monopoly in regards to freight transportation on terms of freight rates. The higher rates provoked the farmers to organize the Granger movement, which was an attempt to lobby the state governments for economic regulations. The movement was successful and led to the formulation of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 by the federal government to put an end to the monopoly . The author mentions about the role of some of the famous yet powerful businessmen of the nineteenth century, such as Driven J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie in harnessing a new vision to the American industry.
In a chronological manner, the author explains about the geographical expansion of the United States and the growing urbanism in the country with reference to the establishment of new cities and the migration of people from rural areas to the cities. Brands provides details about the intervention of the government at all stages and the emerging inequality in the country in terms of class, race and wealth . He also emphasizes on democracy as a form of self-determination rather than foreign domination in lieu of the capitalists. The author describes the role of immigrants in boosting the economy of the country. He provides information from some of his previous works in addition to other histories and biographies. Brands focuses on several politicians and their contribution to the development of modern America post Civil War. He also narrates about the role of diplomats and union leaders in expanding capitalism in the United States.
The book stands on the top of the most preferable books of American history for the mastery detail provided by the author. He gives an overview of one of the most important periods of American history, emphasizing on all the events that happened between 1865 and 1900 in a chronological order. His accomplishment provides an insight of American history by incorporating the concepts of democracy and capitalism. The book sheds a new light on one of the controversial topics of the nineteenth century in a diplomatic way covering all possible information to provide a fresh understanding of the context. It includes information beyond national boundaries, such as the capture of Philippines by the military troops of America and the influence of foreign capitalists on the governmental decisions of the country .
However, one of the negative aspects of the book is the improper transition between the paragraphs. The author jumps from one context to a completely different context that has no relation to the former one. He includes too much detail about the biographies, which makes the book lengthy and boring at times. Instead of writing concise details about history, he elaborates each minute detail to make the reading complex. Another disadvantage of the book is that it only focuses on the economic progress of the country ignoring the prevailing social circumstances. On the whole, the book is one of the best recommendations for students pursuing courses in American economics and history to understand some of the most important decades in American history. The book is a must read as it elaborates on the transformation of America into a wealthy and prosperous nation post Civil War.
Brands, H. W. American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900. Anchor Books, 2011.
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