Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism

Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism

by Bhu Srinivasan


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An absorbing and original narrative history of American capitalism


From the days of the Mayflower and the Virginia Company, America has been a place for people to dream, invent, build, tinker, and bet the farm in pursuit of a better life. Americana takes us on a four-hundred-year journey of this spirit of innovation and ambition through a series of Next Big Things — the inventions, techniques, and industries that drove American history forward: from the telegraph, the railroad, guns, radio, and banking to flight, suburbia, and sneakers, culminating with the Internet and mobile technology at the turn of the twenty-first century. The result is a thrilling alternative history of modern America that reframes events, trends, and people we thought we knew through the prism of the value that, for better or for worse, this nation holds dearest: capitalism. 

In a winning, accessible style, Bhu Srinivasan boldly takes on four centuries of American enterprise, revealing the unexpected connections that link them. We learn how Andrew Carnegie's early job as a telegraph messenger boy paved the way for his leadership of the steel empire that would make him one of the nation's richest men; how the gunmaker Remington reinvented itself in the postwar years to sell typewriters; how the inner workings of the Mafia mirrored the trend of consolidation and regulation in more traditional business; and how a 1950s infrastructure bill triggered a series of events that produced one of America's most enduring brands: KFC. Reliving the heady early days of Silicon Valley, we are reminded that the start-up is an idea as old as America itself.

Entertaining, eye-opening, and sweeping in its reach, Americana is an exhilarating new work of narrative history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399563799
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/26/2017
Pages: 576
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Bhu Srinivasan is an accomplished media entrepreneur whose career has spanned digital media, pop culture, technology, publishing, and financial content. Srinivasan arrived in the U.S. with his family at the age of eight, and as a child lived in the South, the Rust Belt, Southern California, and the Pacific Northwest. He lives in New Canaan, CT with his wife and four children.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Part 1

1 Venture 3

2 Tobacco 18

3 Taxes 30

4 Cotton 46

5 Steam 58

6 Canals 69

7 Railroads 80

8 Telegraph 92

9 Gold 103

10 Slavery 116

Part 2

11 War 135

12 Oil 149

13 Steel 162

14 Machines 174

15 Light 185

16 Retail 198

17 Unions 211

18 Papers 224

19 Trusts 240

20 Food 259

Part 3

21 Automobiles 279

22 Radio 292

23 Bootlegging 307

24 Banking 320

25 Film 336

26 Flight 349

27 Suburbia 367

28 Television 381

29 Roads 395

Part 4

30 Computing 409

31 Start-Ups 421

32 Finance 436

33 Shoes 450

34 Internet 463

35 Mobile 479

Acknowledgments 493

Notes 497

Bibliography 535

Index 547

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