Democracy in America

Democracy in America is the classic analysis of America’s unique political character, quoted heavily by politicians and perennially popping up on history professors’ reading lists. The book’s enduring appeal lies in the eloquent, prophetic voice of Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859), a French aristocrat who visited the United States in 1831. A thoughtful young man in a still-young country, he succeeded in penning this penetrating study … [ Read more ]

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power

Nothing rivals oil as the world’s most strategic commodity. Yergin’s deftly recorded history of the industry, which seems particularly relevant at the moment, culminates in Saddam Hussein’s attempt to take over Kuwait’s oil resources in 1990 and the resulting gulf war. An important read, because for the last 150 years or so, oil has equaled mastery, an equation unlikely to change-at least while SUVs roam … [ Read more ]

The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business

This is basically the business history of the United States. It traces the story of how the visible hand of management in business replaced what Adam Smith called the invisible hand of market forces.

Why Decisions Fail

Nutt (management, Ohio State Univ.) has spent 20 years collecting and studying more than 400 decisions made by upper-level management in corporate, government, and nonprofit organizations. Here, he selects 15 decisions that led to debacles and gives the background for each decision, what went wrong, and how the problem could have been approached differently. Through these case studies and other examples, he reveals a number … [ Read more ]

The Wheels of Commerce (Civilization and Capitalism: 15Th-18th Century)

Volume two of Braudel’s 2,000-page economic history begins with the earliest examples of the market economy-the rudimentary markets of 15th-century Europe-and then examines the evolution of the more sophisticated trade networks and stock exchanges of the next 300 years. Along the way, Braudel contends that capitalism evolves only in societies with natural hierarchies that thrive on wealth accumulation and the emergence of global trade. More … [ Read more ]

Reinventing the Bazaar: The Natural History of Markets

John McMillan’s Reinventing the Bazaar is an extremely accessible description of markets large and small, as well as an explanation of their underlying mechanisms. An “absolutely free market,” he says, is a “free-for-all brawl,” while a “real market” is an “ordered brawl.” Sprinkling his analysis with hundreds of anecdotes and examples–prison camps, eBay, the American experiment with alcohol prohibition, the Tokyo fish market, and traditional … [ Read more ]