392 pages | 6 x 9 | 1 illus.
Paper 2007 | ISBN 9780812219401 | $24.95s | Outside the Americas £19.99
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A volume in the series Politics and Culture in Modern America
View table of contents and excerpt
"The intellectual history of capitalism finally gets its due in this volume of fresh, arresting essays. This book marks the willingness of a new generation of scholars to open up issues rarely addressed by the labor and business historians who until now have been our leading historians of capitalism."—David A. Hollinger, author of Postethnic America: Beyond MulticulturalismAt the dawn of the twenty-first century, the legitimacy of American capitalism seems unchallenged. The link between open markets, economic growth, and democratic success has become common wisdom, not only among policy makers but for many intellectuals as well. In this instance, however, the past has hardly been prologue to contemporary confidence in the free market. American Capitalism presents thirteen thought-provoking essays that explain how a variety of individuals, many prominent intellectuals but others partisans in the combative world of business and policy, engaged with anxieties about the seismic economic changes in postwar America and, in the process, reconfigured the early twentieth-century ideology that put critique of economic power and privilege at its center.
"American Capitalism is an important contribution to our understanding of postwar American thought and culture. It will force historians to revise their pantheon of important thinkers for the period. This book reminds us how, in the postwar era, the triumph of a capitalist worldview remained open to serious questioning and alternatives."—George Cotkin, author of Existential America
"An impressive and thought-provoking compilation of essays from political and national figures on recent and continuing American social and economic issues."—MBR Bookwatch
The essays consider a broad spectrum of figures—from C. L. R. James and John Kenneth Galbraith to Peter Drucker and Ayn Rand—and topics ranging from theories of Cold War "convergence" to the rise of the philanthropic Right. They examine how the shift away from political economy at midcentury paved the way for the 1960s and the "culture wars" that followed. Contributors interrogate what was lost and gained when intellectuals moved their focus from political economy to cultural criticism. The volume thereby offers a blueprint for a dramatic reevaluation of how we should think about the trajectory of American intellectual history in twentieth-century United States.
Nelson Lichtenstein is Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he directs the Center for Work, Labor, and Democracy. He is the author of Walter Reuther: The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit and State of the Union: A Century of American Labor, and editor of Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First-Century Capitalism.