The Washington Post
Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nationby Peter L. Bernstein
Upon completion, the Erie Canal stretched 363 miles across New York state from Albany to Buffalo, linking the great port city of New York to the interior of the United States. This work tells the story of the building of the canal and its impact on the economy. The author describes how the canal came to be through looking at the individuals who came with the plan, the politicians and businessmen involved with its implementation, and the engineers who saw it to fruition. He sets the narrative of the canal within the overall context of concurrent economic and political developments. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
The Washington Post
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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- Product dimensions:
- 6.44(w) x 9.48(h) x 1.22(d)
Meet the Author
Peter L. Bernstein, the financial historian, wrote nine books, including the worldwide bestseller Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk.
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This was a good book about an underappreciated, and not much talked about, time in our history. The building of the Erie Canal was a monumental undertaking and had tremendous impacts on how this country developed. As the author points out, it had impacts on how other parts of the world developed too, because it opened up the breadbasket that is the Midwest and provided a source of food for industrializing countries in Europe. One of the things that I found astonishing was that there were absolutely no civil engineers in the United States when the canal boom was getting underway. "The results are all the more remarkable because they were achieved at a time when civil engineering was a non-existent profession in the United States...Almost everything was done on an ad hoc basis, with hardly any plans drawn out on paper." - - Amazing. I also found in striking how the economic conditions paralleled some of the things we've seen with the economic turmoil in 2008-2010. Speculators back then were derided as "shavers and brokers" and the nation was being described as an "overgrown and pampered youth...vaulting and bounding to ruin" with the cure "to go back to the simplicity of our forefathers and exchanging...our dissipation for temperance and our vice for virtue". Sounds a lot like today where a big part of the economic problem was people living beyond their means and buying houses they couldn't afford. - - - An interesting thing about that though was that "the impact of the business depression on the cost of both constructing and financing the Erie Canal was as favorable as it was unexpected". Makes me wonder if now is the time we should be reinvesting in infrastructure projects.
From a modern perspective, a ditch allowing barges to travel between Rust Belt cities in upstate New York hardly seems the stuff of high drama. But well-regarded economist and historian Peter L. Bernstein accomplishes the tough task of making readers care about the Erie Canal, the massive public works project that he believes changed the course of U.S. and world politics and trade. This compelling study portrays the waterway as a project involving enough risk and adventure to make a dot-com entrepreneur pale. Bernstein girds its history with ample modern-day perspectives to keep you interested. He does bog down at times in the arcane convolutions of early nineteenth century political disputes, but still spins a mostly fascinating yarn. We recommend this book to anyone looking for insight into this pivotal point in America¿s - and, perhaps, the world¿s - economic development.
This book fully delivered on its promise of, 'The epic account of how one narrow robbon of water forever changed the course of American history.' As we stand at the real beginning of the Information Revolution, this book gives thought-provoking insight to how the execution of 'big' ideas can and does change history.
I live in an area that the Erie Canal runs through and have all my life. I will never look at the Canal the same again. This book was complete and insightful. I could hardly put the book down it was so well written. The book really does a great job of weaving together the whole picture of the wide influence of the Canal.