100 books like Ages of American Capitalism

By Jonathan Levy,

Here are 100 books that Ages of American Capitalism fans have personally recommended if you like Ages of American Capitalism. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of VC: An American History

William H. Janeway Author Of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators and the State

From my list on venture capital and the economics of innovation.

Why am I passionate about this?

After receiving my doctorate in Economics at Cambridge University, I embarked on a 35-year sabbatical as a venture capitalist focused on information technology. I learned about the critical role that the American state had played by sponsoring the computer industry. When the "Dotcom Bubble" of the late 1990s grossly overpriced my companies, because I had written my PhD thesis on 1929-1931 when the Bubble of the Roaring Twenties exploded, I had seen the movie before and knew how it ended. I returned to Cambridge determined to tell this saga of innovation at the frontier and the strategic roles played by financial speculation and the state in funding economic transformation."

William's book list on venture capital and the economics of innovation

William H. Janeway Why did William love this book?

I value this book as a comprehensive history of high-risk investing in America, from the Whaling Industry to Silicon Valley. 

Nicholas reveals the extraordinary skew and persistence in investment returns: a small number of investors are responsible for a disproportionate amount of the gains, and this holds true across widely varying institutional structures and technological domains.

And he explores the intimate relationship between the rise of the IT and Biotech industries and support from the U.S, Government. 

By Tom Nicholas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked VC as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A major exploration of venture financing, from its origins in the whaling industry to Silicon Valley, that shows how venture capital created an epicenter for the development of high-tech innovation.

VC tells the riveting story of how the industry arose from the United States' long-running orientation toward entrepreneurship. Venture capital has been driven from the start by the pull of outsized returns through a skewed distribution of payoffs-a faith in low-probability but substantial financial rewards that rarely materialize. Whether the gamble is a whaling voyage setting sail from New Bedford or the newest startup in Silicon Valley, VC is not…


Book cover of Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970

William H. Janeway Author Of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators and the State

From my list on venture capital and the economics of innovation.

Why am I passionate about this?

After receiving my doctorate in Economics at Cambridge University, I embarked on a 35-year sabbatical as a venture capitalist focused on information technology. I learned about the critical role that the American state had played by sponsoring the computer industry. When the "Dotcom Bubble" of the late 1990s grossly overpriced my companies, because I had written my PhD thesis on 1929-1931 when the Bubble of the Roaring Twenties exploded, I had seen the movie before and knew how it ended. I returned to Cambridge determined to tell this saga of innovation at the frontier and the strategic roles played by financial speculation and the state in funding economic transformation."

William's book list on venture capital and the economics of innovation

William H. Janeway Why did William love this book?

I deeply appreciate the way that Lécuyer undermines the myth that a few genius entrepreneurs and venture capitalists invented Silicon Valley from nothing.

He documents the pre-history of Silicon Valley, showing how the “ham radio” operators of the early 20th Century found support from the U.S. Navy to build a micro-electronics industry in the San Francisco Bay Area before World War II. A skilled technical workforce was available when, partly by chance and partly through the initiative of Stanford’s Dean of Engineering, Frederick Terman (himself a radio engineer), the semiconductor industry found its home.

By Christophe Lecuyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Making Silicon Valley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Making Silicon Valley, Christophe Lécuyer shows that the explosive growth of the personal computer industry in Silicon Valley was the culmination of decades of growth and innovation in the San Francisco-area electronics industry. Using the tools of science and technology studies, he explores the formation of Silicon Valley as an industrial district, from its beginnings as the home of a few radio enterprises that operated in the shadow of RCA and other East Coast firms through its establishment as a center of the electronics industry and a leading producer of power grid tubes, microwave tubes, and semiconductors. He traces…


Book cover of The Power of Creative Destruction: Economic Upheaval and the Wealth of Nations

William H. Janeway Author Of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators and the State

From my list on venture capital and the economics of innovation.

Why am I passionate about this?

After receiving my doctorate in Economics at Cambridge University, I embarked on a 35-year sabbatical as a venture capitalist focused on information technology. I learned about the critical role that the American state had played by sponsoring the computer industry. When the "Dotcom Bubble" of the late 1990s grossly overpriced my companies, because I had written my PhD thesis on 1929-1931 when the Bubble of the Roaring Twenties exploded, I had seen the movie before and knew how it ended. I returned to Cambridge determined to tell this saga of innovation at the frontier and the strategic roles played by financial speculation and the state in funding economic transformation."

William's book list on venture capital and the economics of innovation

William H. Janeway Why did William love this book?

Philippe Aghion has been one of the pioneers in the development of “Schumpeterian Growth Theory” to model the process of Creative Destruction” that drives technological innovation and economic growth. This is an accessible presentation of the dynamics of the model and the observable consequences in the real world.  

I have found it essential for teaching my course on Venture Capital and the Economics of Innovation.

By Philippe Aghion, Celine Antonin, Simon Bunel , Jodie Cohen-Tanugi (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Power of Creative Destruction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hayek Book Prize Finalist
An Economist Best Book of the Year
A Foreign Affairs Best Book of the Year
A Financial Times Summer Reading Favorite

"Sweeping, authoritative and-for the times-strikingly upbeat...The overall argument is compelling and...it carries a trace of Schumpeterian subversion."
-The Economist

"[An] important book...Lucid, empirically grounded, wide-ranging, and well-argued."
-Martin Wolf, Financial Times

"Offers...much needed insight into the sources of economic growth and the kinds of policies that will promote it...All in Washington would do well to read this volume carefully."
-Milton Ezrati, Forbes

Inequality is on the rise, growth stagnant, the environment in crisis. Covid seems…


Book cover of Innovation in Real Places: Strategies for Prosperity in an Unforgiving World

William H. Janeway Author Of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators and the State

From my list on venture capital and the economics of innovation.

Why am I passionate about this?

After receiving my doctorate in Economics at Cambridge University, I embarked on a 35-year sabbatical as a venture capitalist focused on information technology. I learned about the critical role that the American state had played by sponsoring the computer industry. When the "Dotcom Bubble" of the late 1990s grossly overpriced my companies, because I had written my PhD thesis on 1929-1931 when the Bubble of the Roaring Twenties exploded, I had seen the movie before and knew how it ended. I returned to Cambridge determined to tell this saga of innovation at the frontier and the strategic roles played by financial speculation and the state in funding economic transformation."

William's book list on venture capital and the economics of innovation

William H. Janeway Why did William love this book?

The theoretical work of Aghion and his colleagues is complemented by Breznitz's empirical examination of how a disparate set of innovative economies actually function and of the alternative bases for the competitive achievements. 

I discovered Dan Breznitz's fieldwork on innovation first from his book on China, The Run of the Red Queenand then his comparative analysis of the different paths along which Israel, Taiwan, and Ireland moved from peasant levels of development to the technological frontier. He provides an essential complement to the more theoretical analysis of Aghion and his colleagues.

By Dan Breznitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Innovation in Real Places as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A challenge to prevailing ideas about innovation and a guide to identifying the best growth strategy for your community.

Across the world, cities and regions have wasted trillions of dollars on blindly copying the Silicon Valley model of growth creation. Since the early years of the information age, we've been told that economic growth derives from harnessing technological innovation. To do this, places must create good education systems, partner with local research universities, and attract innovative hi-tech firms. We have lived with this system for decades, and the result is clear: a small number of regions and cities at the…


Book cover of It's OK to Be Angry About Capitalism

Mark E. Leib Author Of Image Breaker

From my list on Jewish life and ethics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started studying Judaism as an adult in 1982, and in the 40 or so years that have passed since then I’ve read voraciously on the subject and have discussed it at length with Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform rabbis from Boston to Tampa. I’ve come to see over that time that Judaism’s objective is to shape conscientious, caring human beings who will bring light and compassion to the earth in spite of all the forces that want to keep trouble and insensitivity there. The books that I’ve listed are among the best in communicating the Jewish vision for the planet. I think you’ll learn much from them.

Mark's book list on Jewish life and ethics

Mark E. Leib Why did Mark love this book?

This may seem an unusual choice – and its title is entirely misleading – but what Sanders describes is what the U.S. might look like if it translated Biblical values into policy and law.

Sanders’s real subject is justice – social, economic, racial, and environmental. He describes a compassionate society in which all have access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and in which no one is condemned to suffer because of the accidents of birth.

Significantly, Sanders backs up all his suggestions with explanations of how they could be translated into reality. Read this even if you didn’t vote for him!

By Bernie Sanders,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It's OK to Be Angry About Capitalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

'Galvanizing and uplifting' The Guardian

'Bernie Sanders has changed US politics forever' Owen Jones

It's OK to be angry about capitalism. It's OK to want something better. Bernie Sanders takes on the 1% and speaks blunt truths about a system that is fuelled by uncontrolled greed, and rigged against ordinary people. Where a handful of oligarchs have never had it so good, with more money than they could spend in a thousand lifetimes, and the vast majority struggle to survive. Where a decent standard of living for all seems like an impossible…


Book cover of Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism

Derek Lidow Author Of The Entrepreneurs: The Relentless Quest for Value

From my list on most truthful about how entrepreneurship works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have had the unique experience of having been a successful CEO of a global publicly traded semiconductor company, a founder and CEO of an innovative and valuable startup, and now as a teacher and scholar of entrepreneurship and innovation. I’m a Professor of the Practice at Princeton University where I teach and write about being a successful entrepreneur. My three books on the subject are: Startup Leadership: How Savvy Entrepreneurs Turn Their Ideas Into Successful Enterprises; Building on Bedrock: What Sam Walton, Walt Disney, and Other Great Self-Made Entrepreneurs Can Teach Us About Building Valuable Companies; and THE ENTREPRENEURS: The Relentless Quest for Value

Derek's book list on most truthful about how entrepreneurship works

Derek Lidow Why did Derek love this book?

This is a book of 35 short chapters that each describe a slice of America’s development from a new country into the leader of the capitalist world… which is actually a story about entrepreneurship. Srinvasan’s style is very engaging, and the book is a page-turner. Each chapter describes the development of a market or new way of doing business, like “railroads,” “steel,” “banking,” and “advertising.” Once you’ve finished reading this book, you cannot help but marvel at what entrepreneurs have accomplished.

By Bhu Srinivasan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Americana as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An absorbing and original narrative history of American capitalism

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2017 BY THE ECONOMIST

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…


Book cover of Bankers and Empire: How Wall Street Colonized the Caribbean

Marc-William Palen Author Of The 'Conspiracy' of Free Trade: The Anglo-American Struggle over Empire and Economic Globalisation, 1846-1896

From my list on late-19th-century American capitalism and empire.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian based in England, raised in Texas. While undertaking a summertime spoken Latin course at the Vatican in 2001 I found myself in the midst of Italian protests against that year’s G8 summit in Genoa. The strength of the anti-globalization movement, and the violent response from the Carabinieri, sparked an early interest in the historical controversies surrounding globalization and US foreign policy. Ten years later, I had a PhD in History from the University of Texas at Austin and the first draft of what would become my book, The “Conspiracy” of Free Trade

Marc-William's book list on late-19th-century American capitalism and empire

Marc-William Palen Why did Marc-William love this book?

Recovering histories nearly erased from the archival record is no easy task.

Hudson takes this daunting challenge on here as he traces the hidden ties binding the Gilded Age’s exploitative racial capitalist system with Wall Street’s subsequent imperial practices in the Caribbean. It’s a sordid tale that still resonates today; some of these same financial colonizers of the Caribbean still exist in the guise of Citigroup and Chase. 

By Peter James Hudson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bankers and Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the end of the nineteenth century until the onset of the Great Depression, Wall Street embarked on a stunning, unprecedented, and often bloody period of international expansion in the Caribbean. A host of financial entities sought to control banking, trade, and finance in the region. In the process, they not only trampled local sovereignty, grappled with domestic banking regulation, and backed US imperialism-but they also set the model for bad behavior by banks, visible still today. In Bankers and Empire, Peter James Hudson tells the provocative story of this period, taking a close look at both the institutions and…


Book cover of Brand New Nation: Capitalist Dreams and Nationalist Designs in Twenty-First-Century India

Mircea Raianu Author Of Tata: The Global Corporation That Built Indian Capitalism

From my list on capitalism in 21st century India.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a historian of global capitalism and South Asia, writing about corporations as they are and how they could be. I've looked at India with the eyes of an outsider, drawing on my experiences growing up in 1990s Eastern Europe during a time of political upheaval and shock privatizations as the old communist order crumbled. Having witnessed the rise of a new class of monopolists and oligarchs in its stead, I became interested in the many different ways capitalists exercise power in society over time and around the world, and how we as ordinary citizens relate to them. I'm now interested in thinkers, activists, and entrepreneurs who have tried to experiment with alternatives

Mircea's book list on capitalism in 21st century India

Mircea Raianu Why did Mircea love this book?

We start at the top with the Indian nation-state itself and how it has been turned into a brand. What lies behind the narrative of “emerging” economies as attractive destinations for foreign investors? Where does it come from and who does it serve? Establishing a persuasive link between identity politics, populist nationalism, and global capital, Ravinder Kaur offers a model of critical interdisciplinary scholarship on the present. From the World Economic Forum in Davos to the corridors of power in Delhi, Kaur’s interviews shed light on how Indian elites think of themselves in the world (and how this differs radically from the postcolonial dream of non-alignment and social democracy). The close reading of the “Incredible India” publicity campaign is especially innovative, bringing together visual analysis and political economy. 

By Ravinder Kaur,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brand New Nation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Financial Times Best Book of the Year

The first book that examines India's mega-publicity campaigns to theorize the global transformation of the nation-state into an attractive investment destination.

The early twenty-first century was an optimistic moment of global futures-making. The chief narrative was the emergence of the BRICS nations-leading stars in the great spectacle of capitalist growth stories, branded afresh as resource-rich hubs of untapped talent and potential, and newly opened up for foreign investments. The old third-world nations were rapidly embracing the script of unbridled capitalism in the hope of arriving on the world stage. If the tantalizing…


Book cover of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

Thijs ten Raa Author Of Microeconomics: Equilibrium and Efficiency

From my list on microeconomics on how markets are interconnected.

Why am I passionate about this?

Microeconomics is a turnoff to most readers. Not without reason. Many books in this field are dull rewrites of other books and opaque.  In particular, it is not clear how the behavior of individual consumers and producers adds to the performance—good or bad—of an economy. The books listed here helped me to sharpen my own mind and to make my writing lucid.

Thijs' book list on microeconomics on how markets are interconnected

Thijs ten Raa Why did Thijs love this book?

As a moderate leftist I was attracted by this propagandist of rightist policies. 

Ayn Rand makes a strong case to keep out the state and leave the economy to free markets. It helped me to sharpen my mind. 

What is missing in her analysis? How does that modify a rightist political outlook? She challenged me and thus influenced my own writing.

By Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden, Alan Greenspan , Robert Hessen

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Capitalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this series of essays, Ayn Rand presents her stand on the persecution of big business, the causes of war, the default of conservatism, and the evils of altruism.

The foundations of capitalism are being battered by a flood of altruism, which is the cause of the modern world's collapse. This is the view of Ayn Rand, a view so radically opposed to prevailing attitudes that it constitutes a major philosophic revolution. Here is a challenging new look at modern society by one of the most provocative intellectuals on the American scene.
 
This edition includes two articles by Ayn Rand…


Book cover of Sinews of War and Trade: Shipping and Capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula

Robert Vitalis Author Of Oilcraft: The Myths of Scarcity and Security That Haunt U.S. Energy Policy

From my list on crazy things we believe on oil and world politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated with the relationship between the United States and the Middle East since my freshman year at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where I began as a commuter, stuck in gasoline lines, during the “energy crisis” in the fall of 1973, and where I was among the first SUNY students to study abroad in Egypt after the United States resumed diplomatic relations. I wrote my dissertation on Egypt’s economic development (When Capitalists Collide: Business Conflict and the End of Empire in Egypt, 1995) and have been teaching and writing about U.S. involvement in the region for 35 years.

Robert's book list on crazy things we believe on oil and world politics

Robert Vitalis Why did Robert love this book?

Professor Laleh Khalili provides an absolutely riveting account of the transformation of the Gulf region, where the U.S. fifth fleet has operated since the 1990s, into a hub of world commerce in oil and arms. She argues that the lines between civilian and military logistics have grown increasingly blurred. To prove it, she takes us aboard the container ships, detours back to the time when British firms and government agencies ruled, explores the ports and free zones, follows the rails and roads, and uncovers the complex labor relations that make war and trade possible. 

By Laleh Khalili,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sinews of War and Trade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the map of global trade, China is now the factory of the world. A parade of ships full of raw commodities-iron ore, coal, oil-arrive in its ports, and fleets of container ships leave with manufactured goods in all directions. The oil that fuels China's manufacturing comes primarily from the Arabian peninsula. Much of the material shipped from China are transported through the ports of Arabian peninsula, Dubai's Jabal Ali port foremost among them. China's 'maritime silk road' flanks the peninsula on all sides.

Sinews of War and Trade is the story of what the making of new ports and…


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