Americans are living in a time of unprecedented prosperity. At the beginning of the 20th century, life at home and at work was dull, dangerous and uncomfortable. Today, average Americans live as comfortably as royalty a few decades ago, and have more leisure time. Four new books combine economics and history to provide ideas on how prosperity evolved in our modern age and insights into what is likely to happen in the lean years ahead.
The Rise and Fall of American Growth by Robert J. Gordon
The technological, economic and social transformations that drove the rise in prosperity between 1870 and 1970 overshadow today’s advances in communication and information technologies, which have not produced a comparable prosperity.
Empire of Things by Frank Trentmann
Since the dawn of civilization, people’s role or work defined who they were, but in today’s consumer culture, material possessions display identity. The transformation to a worldwide consumer society developed over the past 5 centuries and changed the course of history.
Also available as an eBook on OverDrive.
Bourgeois Equality by Deirdre Nansen McCloskey
Citizens in advanced nations are better off than they were in 1800 by an astounding 3000%. The reason?
Innovation. In Europe, ideas for inventions were widely disseminated for the first time under a new ideology of individual dignity for common people and their right to improve their lives.
Money Changes Everything by William N. Goetzmann
A financial historian explains how the development of finance made civilizations possible. A tool for managing time and risk, finance was an innovation that permitted individuals to move economic value forward and backward through time – allowing people to imagine and to calculate a future.
Also available as an eBook.
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