Colossus: How the Corporation Changed America

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Big business has been the lever of big change over time in American life, change in economy, society, politics, and the envelope of existence--in work, mores, language, consciousness, and the pace and bite of time. Such is the pattern revealed by this historical mosaic.
--From the Preface

Weaving historical source material with his own incisive analysis, Jack Beatty traces the rise of the American corporation, from its beginnings in the 17th century through today, illustrating how it has come to loom colossus-like over the economy, society, culture, and politics. Through an imaginative selection of readings made up of historical and contemporary documents, opinion pieces, reportage, biographies, company histories, and scenes from literature, all introduced and explicated by Beatty, Colossus makes a convincing case that it is the American corporation that has been, for good and ill, the primary maker and manager of change in modern America. In this anthology, readers are shown how a developing "business civilization" has affected domestic life in America, how labor disputes have embodied a struggle between freedom and fraternity, how corporate leaders have faced the recurring dilemma of balancing fiduciary with social responsibility, and how Silicon Valley and Wall Street have come to dwarf Capitol Hill in pervasiveness of influence. From the slave trade and the transcontinental railroad to the software giants and the multimedia conglomerates, Colossus reveals how the corporation emerged as the foundation of representative government in the United States, as the builder of the young nation's public works, as the conqueror of American space, and as the inexhaustible engine of economic growth from the Civil War to today. At the same time, Colossus gives perspective to the century-old debate over the corporation's place in the good society.

A saga of freedom and domination, success and failure, creativity and conformity, entrepreneurship and monopoly, high purpose and low practice, Colossus is a major historical achievement.
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About the author

Jack Beatty is a senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly, and the author of The Rascal King, a biography of the legendary Irish-American politician James Michael Curley, and The World According to Peter Drucker, an intellectual profile of the influential thinker. He lives in Boston.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Currency
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Published on
Mar 5, 2002
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Pages
528
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ISBN
9780767909570
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economic History
Business & Economics / Free Enterprise & Capitalism
Business & Economics / Industries / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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An against-the-grain polemic on American capitalism from New York Times bestselling author Tyler Cowen.

We love to hate the 800-pound gorilla. Walmart and Amazon destroy communities and small businesses. Facebook turns us into addicts while putting our personal data at risk. From skeptical politicians like Bernie Sanders who, at a 2016 presidential campaign rally said, “If a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist,” to millennials, only 42 percent of whom support capitalism, belief in big business is at an all-time low. But are big companies inherently evil? If business is so bad, why does it remain so integral to the basic functioning of America? Economist and bestselling author Tyler Cowen says our biggest problem is that we don’t love business enough.

In Big Business, Cowen puts forth an impassioned defense of corporations and their essential role in a balanced, productive, and progressive society. He dismantles common misconceptions and untangles conflicting intuitions. According to a 2016 Gallup survey, only 12 percent of Americans trust big business “quite a lot,” and only 6 percent trust it “a great deal.” Yet Americans as a group are remarkably willing to trust businesses, whether in the form of buying a new phone on the day of its release or simply showing up to work in the expectation they will be paid. Cowen illuminates the crucial role businesses play in spurring innovation, rewarding talent and hard work, and creating the bounty on which we’ve all come to depend.

WHY FEEL EMBARRASSED BY BUSINESS?
 
Every American benefits every day from the phenomenal productivity of the free market, so why do so many people feel guilty or skeptical about our business system? In this passionately argued, eye-opening book, talk-radio star and bestselling author Michael Medved provides detailed and devastating rebuttals to the most widely circulated smears against capitalism.
 
MYTH: Big business is bad, small business is good.
 
TRUTH: Every big business began life as a small business, and every small business today yearns for enough success to become a big business tomorrow. For some products—like cars or electrical power—little companies can’t benefit their workers or customers as reliably as huge corporations.
 
MYTH: Business executives are overpaid and corrupt.
 
TRUTH: Top leaders will always command top dollar, and a company can’t limit executive pay without limiting its access to talent. Ferocious, long-term competition in the corporate world ultimately rewards focus and hard work, not short cuts and corruption.
 
MYTH: You can count on better treatment from the government than from business.
 
TRUTH: If a private company deals with you poorly, you can take your business elsewhere. But with the government’s power, you get only two choices: compliance or jail.
 
Medved responds to business-bashing lies with the slashing wit, irrefutable facts, fascinating historical nuggets, illuminating anecdotes, and liberating clarity that made him one of the top-ten talk-radio hosts in the United States. This audacious
and urgently needed book provides energy and inspiration for a beleaguered free-market system poised for its unstoppable comeback.
In The Lost History of 1914, Jack Beatty offers a highly original view of World War I, testing against fresh evidence the long-dominant assumption that it was inevitable. "Most books set in 1914 map the path leading to war," Beatty writes. "This one maps the multiple paths that led away from it."

Chronicling largely forgotten events faced by each of the belligerent countries in the months before the war started in August, Beatty shows how any one of them-a possible military coup in Germany; an imminent civil war in Britain; the murder trial of the wife of the likely next premier of France, who sought détente with Germany-might have derailed the war or brought it to a different end. In Beatty's hands, these stories open into epiphanies of national character, and offer dramatic portraits of the year's major actors-Kaiser Wilhelm, Tsar Nicholas II , Woodrow Wilson, along with forgotten or overlooked characters such as Pancho Villa, Rasputin, and Herbert Hoover. Europe's ruling classes, Beatty shows, were so haunted by fear of those below that they mistook democratization for revolution, and were tempted to "escape forward" into war to head it off. Beatty's powerful rendering of the combat between August 1914 and January 1915 which killed more than one million men, restores lost history, revealing how trench warfare, long depicted as death's victory, was actually a life-saving strategy.


Beatty's deeply insightful book-as elegantly written as it is thought-provoking and probing-lights a lost world about to blow itself up in what George Kennan called "the seminal catastrophe of the twentieth century." It also arms readers against narratives of historical inevitability in today's world.

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