From Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris, and Cornelius Vanderbilt to Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates, with Madam C.J. Walker, Martha Stewart, Jay-Z, and many more in-between, An Illustrated Business History of the United States is a sweeping, lively, and highly approachable history of American business from the nation's founding to the twenty-first century.
Author Richard Vague divides this history into fourteen eras, with each era featuring lists of the wealthiest individuals, notable inventions, and companies founded, and the largest organizations, banks, and insurance companies. Much of the data to create these lists stems from original research, and the book contains a wealth of primary business information extended and supplemented on a companion website.
Major themes include the nation's business beginnings in land and real estate, the pivotal place of financial institutions from the nation's earliest days, America's emergence as an industrial powerhouse, its outsized innovations, the dominance of its railways, automobiles, and other transportation companies, and the ever-changing role of government. As the book moves to the contemporary era, it highlights the merchandising of comfort, entertainment, and controversy, and looks to the future as it touches on the potential of emerging industries such as genetic engineering, green energy, and virtual reality.
A must read for any student of American history, the book covers both catastrophe and triumph, innovation and failure, and provides a crucial context for a better understanding of the nation's political and social history. Lushly illustrated with 300 color images, it is equally rewarding for those who want to read it cover to cover and those who prefer to focus on select eras of special interest.
Richard Vague is currently Secretary of Banking and Securities for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He is author of A Brief History of Doom: Two Hundred Years of Financial Crises and The Next Economic Disaster: Why It's Coming and How to Avoid It, both of which are also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.