Book Reviews

28 julho, 2006

81) Os muito ricos e os super-ricos: mas na America...

Published by EH.NET (July 2006)

Robert E. Wright and David J. Cowen, _Financial Founding Fathers: The Men Who Made America Rich_. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. v + 240 pp. $25 (cloth), ISBN: 0-226-91068-7.

Reviewed for EH.NET by Gerald Gunderson, Shelby Cullom Davis Endowment, Trinity College.

This book is comprised of short biographies of those believed to be
most influential in the development of the financial system during
the early national period in the United States. There are the usual
suspects, Alexander Hamilton and Robert Morris, but also some that
seldom are mentioned, such as William Duer and Thomas Willing.

The accounts move along fluidly and the authors are not shy about
assigning credit or blame. Hamilton receives the customary praise but
Andrew Jackson does not get the criticism one might have expected for
someone who killed the national bank. Rather, the argument seems to
be that by time of his presidency the financial system had developed
to the degree that its alternatives were not that much worse. This
last chapter -- combined with discussions of Nicholas Biddle --
departs from the usual pattern of the book. The other financial
entrepreneurs -- outside of the scoundrels such as Duer -- are
generally thought to have played important roles in developing the
economy. This point can be argued, here and elsewhere in history. Do
entrepreneurs have a large, independent role in the growth of new
products and technologies or are they often implementing changes that
would soon appear in any case? To the authors' credit, and the
readers' benefit, these arguments in _Financial Founding Fathers_ are
thoughtfully developed and clearly stated.

The book is enjoyable to read. Each entrepreneur is portrayed playing
a role -- "Creator," "Judas," "Sinner," and "Savior" -- for example.
And the narrative seems natural, not stretched to cover a framework
that skews the examples. You will enjoy this book and it can be used
for a wide range of audiences from a supplementary reading for
undergraduates to a departure for discussions in seminars to a good
read on your flight home from a conference.

Gerald Gunderson is Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of American
Business and Economic Enterprise at Trinity College, Hartford,

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Published by EH.Net (July 2006). All EH.Net reviews are archived at

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