Alternative Tracks: The Constitution of American Industrial Order, 1865-1917

Alternative Tracks: The Constitution of American Industrial Order, 1865-1917

by Gerald Berk
     
 
Alternative Tracks provides a novel interpretation of industrialization and political development in the United States. Focusing on the critical case of railroads, Gerald Berk shows that alternative forms of economic organization and governmental regulation existed in the late nineteenth century. Constitutional choices, not technological imperatives or economic

Overview

Alternative Tracks provides a novel interpretation of industrialization and political development in the United States. Focusing on the critical case of railroads, Gerald Berk shows that alternative forms of economic organization and governmental regulation existed in the late nineteenth century. Constitutional choices, not technological imperatives or economic interests, determined the outcome in the twentieth century: a centralized industry regulated according to liberal principles of redistribution. Alternative Tracks reveals a nineteenth-century rival to this political economy -- an equally efficient and more democratic system of regional railroads regulated according to republican principles.

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Conventional wisdom has it that the industrial centralization of the US between the Civil War and World War I was driven by the efficiency imperatives of modern technology, with the state hanging onto the rear. Using the railroads as an example, however, Berk (government and international studies, U. of Notre Dame) argues that economic development could have gone in a number of directions, but was highly shaped by interactions with the several branches of government. A main concern of the government, he says, were the constitutional forms of justice relating to the corporations and the market. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Review of Politics - Ellis W. Hawley
A lean but provocative, timely, insightful, and forcefully written challenge to the conventional wisdom about industrial America's political economy.

Contemporary Sociology - William Roy
[A] model of sophisticated social science history... Berk forcefully rebuts the assumption found in nearly all historical accounts that the railroad structure that developed was inevitable... As effectively as anyone has, he makes a formidable case that it could have been otherwise.

American Historical Review - Mark Wahlgren Summers
Berk has offered some powerful questions for future scholars to keep in mind, and no student of railroad history or the history of business can afford to overlook this book.

American Political Science Review - Richard A. Harris
An ambitious effort to make sense of how the modern American state was fashioned.

Business History Review - Paul J. Miranti
Berk's concise volume... provides a reinterpretation along corporate liberal lines of the factors leading to the rise of the great interregional railroad systems in America during latter half of the nineteenth century.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801846564
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
01/01/1965
Series:
Johns Hopkins Series in Constitutional Thought
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

What People are saying about this

Richard M. Valelly
Berk's first-rate study... connects insights from history of technology, law, political science, and organizational history.

Meet the Author

Gerald Berk is associate professor of political science at the University of Oregon.

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