Hollywood has always been fascinated by America's past, but never more so than in the past fifteen years. Bringing exciting new perspectives to how and why Hollywood has sought to repicture American history, this book offers analysis of more than twenty mainstream contemporary films, including The Patriot, Amistad, Glory, Ride with the Devil, Cold Mountain, Saving Private Ryan, TheThin Red Line, Pearl Harbor, U-571, Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, Heaven and Earth, JFK, Nixon, Malcolm X, Ali, Black Hawk Down, and Three Kings.
Both authoritative and engaging, American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film is the first book to comprehensively explore the post-cold war period of filmmaking, and to navigate the complex ways that film mediates history-sometimes challenging or questioning, but more frequently reaffirming traditional interpretations. The authors consider why such films are becoming increasingly integral to the ambitions of a globally focused American film industry.
Structured by historical periods, chapters cover significant events and eras such as the American Revolution, slavery and the Civil War, World War II, the sixties and seventies, civil rights and black nationalism, the Vietnam War, and post-cold war global conflicts. The lessons learned from the examples will be illuminating for general readers and college students alike.
Winner of the 2021 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award
Historically, Americans of all stripes have concurred that teachers were essential to the success of the public schools and nation. However, they have also concurred that public school teachers were to blame for the failures of the schools and identified professionalization as a panacea.
In Blaming Teachers, Diana D'Amico Pawlewicz reveals that historical professionalization reforms subverted public school teachers’ professional legitimacy. Superficially, professionalism connotes authority, expertise, and status. Professionalization for teachers never unfolded this way; rather, it was a policy process fueled by blame where others identified teachers’ shortcomings. Policymakers, school leaders, and others understood professionalization measures for teachers as efficient ways to bolster the growing bureaucratic order of the public schools through regulation and standardization. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century with the rise of municipal public school systems and reaching into the 1980s, Blaming Teachers traces the history of professionalization policies and the discourses of blame that sustained them.
The death penalty arouses our passions as does few other issues. Some view taking another person's life as just and reasonable punishment while others see it as an inhumane and barbaric act. But the intensity of feeling that capital punishment provokes often obscures its long and varied history in this country.
Now, for the first time, we have a comprehensive history of the death penalty in the United States. Law professor Stuart Banner tells the story of how, over four centuries, dramatic changes have taken place in the ways capital punishment has been administered and experienced. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the penalty was standard for a laundry list of crimes--from adultery to murder, from arson to stealing horses. Hangings were public events, staged before audiences numbering in the thousands, attended by women and men, young and old, black and white alike. Early on, the gruesome spectacle had explicitly religious purposes--an event replete with sermons, confessions, and last minute penitence--to promote the salvation of both the condemned and the crowd. Through the nineteenth century, the execution became desacralized, increasingly secular and private, in response to changing mores. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, ironically, as it has become a quiet, sanitary, technological procedure, the death penalty is as divisive as ever.
By recreating what it was like to be the condemned, the executioner, and the spectator, Banner moves beyond the debates, to give us an unprecedented understanding of capital punishment's many meanings. As nearly four thousand inmates are now on death row, and almost one hundred are currently being executed each year, the furious debate is unlikely to diminish. The Death Penalty is invaluable in understanding the American way of the ultimate punishment.
Table of Contents:
1. Terror, Blood, and Repentance 2. Hanging Day 3. Degrees of Death 4. The Origins of Opposition 5. Northern Reform, Southern Retention 6. Into the Jail Yard 7. Technological Cures 8. Decline 9. To the Supreme Court 10. Resurrection
Epilogue Appendix: Counting Executions Notes Acknowledgments Index
Reviews of this book: [Banner] deftly balances history and politics, crafting a book that will be valuable to anyone interested in knowing more about capital punishment, no matter what his or her views are on the ethical issues surrounding the topic. --David Pitt, Booklist
Reviews of this book: In this well-researched and clear account...Banner charts how and why this country went from having one of the world's mildest punitive systems to one of its harshest. --Publishers Weekly
Reviews of this book: Stuart Banner's book is fine and balanced and important. His lucid history of this grim subject is scrupulously accurate...It is refreshingly free of the tendentiousness and the sensationalism that this subject invites. --Richard A. Posner, New Republic
Reviews of this book: [The] contrast between the past and the present can now be seen with great clarity thanks to...Stuart Banner and his comprehensive book, The Death Penalty...American historians have been slow to undertake anything like a full-scale study of the subject...Banner's book does much to fill [the gaps]. His book is an important and comprehensive...treatment of the topic. --Hugo Adam Bedau, Boston Review
Reviews of this book: Despite the gruesome nature of the book's topic, it is difficult to stop reading. Banner's research is fascinating, his writing style compelling. Given the emotional nature of the subject (few people known to me are wishy-washy about whether the death penalty is moral or immoral), Banner walks the line of neutrality skillfully, without seeming evasive. --Steve Weinberg, Legal Times
Reviews of this book: Stuart Banner's The Death Penalty is a tour de force, remarkable for its neutrality as it traces the ways in which the death penalty has been applied, and for what kinds of crimes, from the Colonial era to the present. Banner...writes like a historian who believes perspective is best gained by dispassionately setting out what happened and letting everyone come to his or her own conclusions. I think, in this book, that works wonderfully. On a subject in which emotions run so high, it seems awfully useful to have a dispassionate voice. After all, if Banner allowed his own feelings on the death penalty--pro, con or somewhere in the middle--to be known, the book easily could be dismissed as a diatribe. He doesn't, and it can't. --Judith Neuman Beck, San Jose Mercury News
Reviews of this book: Law professor Banner...offers a persuasive examination of the evolution of capital punishment from Colonial times onward. He makes clear that the death penalty has possessed generally consistent support from the US populace, although changes in the sensibilities of juries, executioners, legal theoreticians, and judges have occurred...Highly recommended. --R. C. Cottrell, Choice
Reviews of this book: Stuart Banner aptly illustrates in The Death Penalty, like the nation, the death penalty has changed with the times...Banner's account spotlights a number of interesting trends in American history...Mostly evenhanded in the tour he provides through the history of the death penalty and its role in and reflection of American society, he has managed to provide an accessible look at what is a profoundly controversial and complicated subject. --Steven Martinovich, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
Reviews of this book: "For centuries," Stuart Banner tells us, "Americans had been proud to possess a criminal-justice system that made less use of the death penalty than just about any other place on the globe, including the countries of western Europe." But no longer. Now we possess "one of the harshest criminal codes in the world." The Death Penalty helps explain that turnaround, but only in the course of a complicated story in which different factors emerge at different times to play often unforeseeable roles...[This is a] superbly told history. --Paul Rosenberg, Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News
Reviews of this book: Stuart Banner's lucid, richly researched book brings us, for the first time, a comprehensive history of American capital punishment from colonial times to the present. He describes the practices that characterized the institution at different periods, elucidates their ritual purposes and social meanings, and identifies the forces that led to their transformation. The book's well-ordered narrative is interspersed with individual case histories, that give flesh and blood to the account. --David Garland, Times Literary Supplement
Reviews of this book: [An] informative, even-handed, chillingly fascinating account of why and how the U.S. government and many state governments decided to sponsor executions of criminals--even though innocent defendants might die, too. --Jane Henderson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Reviews of this book: Stuart Banner's The Death Penalty is a splendidly objective achievement. Delightfully written, free of academic pretense, liberally sprinkled with apt references from contemporary sources, the book exhaustively explores the multifaceted evolution of America's penal practices. --Elsbeth Bothe, Baltimore Sun
The Death Penalty is certain to be the definitive account of the American experience with capital punishment, from its beginnings in the seventeenth century, to the execution of Timothy McVeigh in 2001. This is a first rate piece of scholarship: well written, deeply researched, fascinating to read, and full of insights and good common sense. It is, in my view, one of the finest books to deal with this troubled and troubling subject. Historical and legal scholarship owe a debt of gratitude to Stuart Banner. --Lawrence Friedman, Stanford Law School
A masterful book. This is a long overdue account which fills a huge gap in our understanding of America's long and complex relationship to state killing. With meticulous scholarship and lucid prose, Banner has written a compelling account of the place of capital punishment in our society. It sets the standard for all future scholarship on the history of the death penalty in America. --Austin Sarat, author of When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition
The Death Penalty, a study we have badly needed, is the first history of the nation's engagement--as well as its disengagement--with capital punishment from the country's earliest days to the present. With a sure grasp of the constitutional issues, Stuart Banner greatly advances a conversation at last underway about the rightness of putting people to death for having inflicted a death. Banner's greatest and most useful feat is remaining dispassionate on a subject that he cares deeply about--as do a growing number of his fellow Americans. --William S. McFeely, author of Proximity to Death
The Death Penalty beautifully explains the changing paths traveled by supporters and opponents of capital punishment over the years. It explores a subject of enormous symbolic importance to Americans today, linking our views about the death penalty to our larger concerns about crime. --David Oshinsky, author of "Worse Than Slavery": Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice
Banner's book is a superbly detailed and textured social history of a subject too often treated in legal abstractions. It demonstrates how capital punishment has gnawed at the conscience and imagination of Americans, and how it has challenged their efforts to define themselves culturally, politically, and racially. --Robert Weisberg, Stanford Law School
American historical writing has traditionally been one of our primary forms of moral reflection. However, David Harlan argues that in the disillusionment following the 1960s, history abandoned its redemptive potential and took up the methodology of the social sciences. In this provocative new book, Harlan describes the reasons for this turn to objectivity and professionalism, explains why it failed, and examines the emergence of a New Traditionalism in American historical writing.
Part One, "The Legacy of the Sixties," describes the impact of literary theory in the 1970s and beyond, the rise of women's history, the various forms of ideological analysis developed by historians on the left, and the crippling obsession with professionalism in the 1980s. Part Two, "The Renewal of American Historical Writing," focuses on the contributions of John Patrick Diggins, Hayden White, Richard Rorty, Elaine Showalter, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and others. Harlan argues that at the end of the twentieth century American historical writing is perfectly poised to become what it once was: not one of the social sciences in historical costume, but a form of moral reflection that speaks to all Americans.
"[A] wholly admirable work. This book will be talked about for years."—Library Journal
"The danger of deportation hangs over the head of virtually every noncitizen in the United States. In the complexities and inconsistencies of immigration law, one can find a reason to deport almost any noncitizen at almost any time. In recent years, the system has been used with unprecedented vigor against millions of deportees.
We are a nation of immigrants--but which ones do we want, and what do we do with those that we don't? These questions have troubled American law and politics since colonial times.
Deportation Nation is a chilling history of communal self-idealization and self-protection. The post-Revolutionary Alien and Sedition Laws, the Fugitive Slave laws, the Indian ""removals,"" the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Palmer Raids, the internment of the Japanese Americans--all sought to remove those whose origins suggested they could never become ""true"" Americans. And for more than a century, millions of Mexicans have conveniently served as cheap labor, crossing a border that was not official until the early twentieth century and being sent back across it when they became a burden.
By illuminating the shadowy corners of American history, Daniel Kanstroom shows that deportation has long been a legal tool to control immigrants' lives and is used with increasing crudeness in a globalized but xenophobic world."
Modern ideas about the protection of free speech in the United States did not originate in twentieth-century Supreme Court cases, as many have thought. Free Speech, “The People’s Darling Privilege” refutes this misconception by examining popular struggles for free speech that stretch back through American history. Michael Kent Curtis focuses on struggles in which ordinary and extraordinary people, men and women, black and white, demanded and fought for freedom of speech during the period from 1791—when the Bill of Rights and its First Amendment bound only the federal government to protect free expression—to 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment sought to extend this mandate to the states. A review chapter is also included to bring the story up to date. Curtis analyzes three crucial political struggles: the controversy that surrounded the 1798 Sedition Act, which raised the question of whether criticism of elected officials would be protected speech; the battle against slavery, which raised the question of whether Americans would be free to criticize a great moral, social, and political evil; and the controversy over anti-war speech during the Civil War. Many speech issues raised by these controversies were ultimately decided outside the judicial arena—in Congress, in state legislatures, and, perhaps most importantly, in public discussion and debate. Curtis maintains that modern proposals for changing free speech doctrine can usefully be examined in the light of this often ignored history. This broader history shows the crucial effect that politicians, activists, ordinary citizens—and later the courts—have had on the American understanding of free speech. Filling a gap in legal history, this enlightening, richly researched historical investigation will be valuable for students and scholars of law, U.S. history, and political science, as well as for general readers interested in civil liberties and free speech.
Widely recognized as a classic of American historiography, The Frontier in American History examines the importance of the unsettled West as both idea and physical reality. Turner's essays explore the changing frontier as it moved progressively westward and discuss the contributions of the pioneers in each frontier area to the development of modern American democracy.
From lagging book sales and shrinking job prospects to concerns over the discipline's "narrowness," myriad factors have been cited by historians as evidence that their profession is in decline in America. Ian Tyrrell's Historians in Public shows that this perceived threat to history is recurrent, exaggerated, and often misunderstood. In fact, history has adapted to and influenced the American public more than people—and often historians—realize.
Tyrrell's elegant history of the practice of American history traces debates, beginning shortly after the profession's emergence in American academia, about history's role in school curricula. He also examines the use of historians in and by the government and whether historians should utilize mass media such as film and radio to influence the general public. As Historians in Public shows, the utility of history is a distinctive theme throughout the history of the discipline, as is the attempt to be responsive to public issues among pressure groups.
A superb examination of the practice of American history since the turn of the century, Historians in Public uncovers the often tangled ways history-makers make history-both as artisans and as actors.
Immigration and American History was first published in 1961. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Ten scholars noted for their studies in immigration history contribute essays to this volume. Dr. Commager surveys the course of immigration studies over the years. Oscar Handlin reappraises the role of immigration in American life. Ingrid Semmingsen, Norwegian historian, writes on the image of American in Europe. Philip D. Jordan focuses on the immigrant's view of America. John T. Flanagan discusses the immigrant in fiction. Carlton C. Qualey contributes two essays. In the first he surveys world population movements and in the second he suggests new source materials for immigration studies. Henry A. Pochmann discusses the migration of ideas—what ideas have come into America, from where, and to what end? Franklin D. Scott inquires into the value of immigration studies of nationality groups. The Reverend Colman J. Barry explores possibilities for future immigration studies. Theodore C. Blegen takes a backward glance and a forward look at immigration studies.
The volume is based on the papers given at a conference held at the University of Minnesota in honor of Dr. Blegen on his retirement from the university.
“[Niebuhr] is one of my favorite philosophers. I take away [from his works] the compelling idea that there’s serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away . . . the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard.”—President Barack Obama
Forged during the tumultuous but triumphant postwar years when America came of age as a world power, The Irony of American History is more relevant now than ever before. Cited by politicians as diverse as Hillary Clinton and John McCain, Niebuhr’s masterpiece on the incongruity between personal ideals and political reality is both an indictment of American moral complacency and a warning against the arrogance of virtue. Impassioned, eloquent, and deeply perceptive, Niebuhr’s wisdom will cause readers to rethink their assumptions about right and wrong, war and peace.
“The supreme American theologian of the twentieth century.”—Arthur Schlesinger Jr., New York Times
“Niebuhr is important for the left today precisely because he warned about America’s tendency—including the left’s tendency—to do bad things in the name of idealism. His thought offers a much better understanding of where the Bush administration went wrong in Iraq.”—Kevin Mattson, The Good Society
“Irony provides the master key to understanding the myths and delusions that underpin American statecraft. . . . The most important book ever written on US foreign policy.”—Andrew J. Bacevich, from the Introduction
How did mothers transform from parents of secondary importance in the colonies to having their multiple and complex roles connected to the well-being of the nation? In the first comprehensive history of motherhood in the United States, Jodi Vandenberg-Daves explores how tensions over the maternal role have been part and parcel of the development of American society.
Modern Motherhood travels through redefinitions of motherhood over time, as mothers encountered a growing cadre of medical and psychological experts, increased their labor force participation, gained the right to vote, agitated for more resources to perform their maternal duties, and demonstrated their vast resourcefulness in providing for and nurturing their families. Navigating rigid gender role prescriptions and a crescendo of mother-blame by the middle of the twentieth century, mothers continued to innovate new ways to combine labor force participation and domestic responsibilities. By the 1960s, they were poised to challenge male expertise, in areas ranging from welfare and abortion rights to childbirth practices and the confinement of women to maternal roles. In the twenty-first century, Americans continue to struggle with maternal contradictions, as we pit an idealized role for mothers in children’s development against the social and economic realities of privatized caregiving, a paltry public policy structure, and mothers’ extensive employment outside the home.
Building on decades of scholarship and spanning a wide range of topics, Vandenberg-Daves tells an inclusive tale of African American, Native American, Asian American, working class, rural, and other hitherto ignored families, exploring sources ranging from sermons, medical advice, diaries and letters to the speeches of impassioned maternal activists. Chapter topics include: inventing a new role for mothers; contradictions of moral motherhood; medicalizing the maternal body; science, expertise, and advice to mothers; uplifting and controlling mothers; modern reproduction; mothers’ resilience and adaptation; the middle-class wife and mother; mother power and mother angst; and mothers’ changing lives and continuous caregiving. While the discussion has been part of all eras of American history, the discussion of the meaning of modern motherhood is far from over.
America's female benevolent societies took root in the 1790s. Initially founded on notions of Christian duty and hope of heavenly reward, these groups produced volunteers dedicated to providing aid to unfortunates in general and women and children in particular. Anne Frior Scott explores the history of these aid societies and how they allowed women to influence America's social agenda and make inroads into politics long before they could vote. Scott reveals how women from all corners of society took part; examines their changing role in the midst of tumultuous times and during the rise of the welfare state; assesses the overlooked accomplishment of black women's organizations from the early days of the republic; and looks at the kinds of enduring community institutions women's organizations founded and maintained.
"We are in the midst of a dramatic shift in sensibility, and 'cultural' history is the rubric under which a massive doubting and refiguring of our most cherished historical assumptions is being conducted. Many historians are coming to suspect that the idea of culture has the power to restore order to the study of the past. Whatever its potency as an organizing theme, there is no doubt about the power of the term 'culture' to evoke and stand for the depth of the re-examination not taking place. At a time of deep intellectual disarray, 'culture' offers a provisional, nominalist version of coherence: whatever the fragmentation of knowledge, however centrifugal the spinning of the scholarly wheel, 'culture'—which (even etymologically) conveys a sense of safe nurture, warm growth, budding or ever-present wholeness—will shelter us. The PC buttons on historians' chests today stand not for 'politically correct' but 'positively cultural.'—from the Introduction
More and more scholars are turning to cultural history in order to make sense of the American past. This volume brings together nine original essays by some leading practitioners in the field. The essays aim to exhibit the promise of a cultural approach to understanding the range of American experiences from the seventeenth century to the present.
Expanding on the editors' pathbreaking The Culture of Consumption, the contributors to this volume argue for a cultural history that attends closely to language and textuality without losing sight of broad configurations of power that social and political history at its best has always stressed. The authors here freshly examine crucial topics in both private and public life. Taken together, the essays shed new light on the power of culture in the lives of Americans past and present.
Since 1945, as the U.S. has engaged in near-constant “wars of choice” with limited congressional oversight, the executive and armed services have shared primary responsibility for often ill-defined objectives, strategies, and benefits. Matthew Moten shows the significance of negotiations between presidents and the generals allied with them.
In the weeks following 9/11, the Bush administration launched the Patriot Act, rejected key provisions of the Geneva Convention, and inaugurated a sweeping electronic surveillance program for intelligence purposes—all in the name of protecting national security. But the current administration is hardly unique in pursuing such measures. In Security v. Liberty, Daniel Farber leads a group of prominent historians and legal experts in exploring the varied ways in which threats to national security have affected civil liberties throughout American history. Has the government's response to such threats led to a gradual loss of freedoms once taken for granted, or has the nation learned how to restore civil liberties after threats subside and how to put protections in place for the future? Security v. Liberty focuses on periods of national emergency in the twentieth century—from World War I through the Vietnam War—to explore how past episodes might bear upon today's dilemma. Distinguished historian Alan Brinkley shows that during World War I the government targeted vulnerable groups—including socialists, anarchists, and labor leaders—not because of a real threat to the nation, but because it was politically expedient to scapegoat unpopular groups. Nonetheless, within ten years the Supreme Court had rolled back the most egregious of the World War I restrictions on civil liberties. Legal scholar John Yoo argues for the legitimacy of the Bush administration's War on Terror policies—such as the detainment and trials of suspected al Qaeda members—by citing historical precedent in the Roosevelt administration's prosecution of World War II. Yoo contends that, compared to Roosevelt's sweeping use of executive orders, Bush has exercised relative restraint in curtailing civil liberties. Law professor Geoffrey Stone describes how J. Edgar Hoover used domestic surveillance to harass anti-war protestors and civil rights groups throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Congress later enacted legislation to prevent a recurrence of the Hoover era excesses, but Stone notes that the Bush administration has argued for the right to circumvent some of these restrictions in its campaign against terrorism. Historian Jan Ellen Lewis looks at early U.S. history to show how an individual's civil liberties often depended on the extent to which he or she fit the definition of "American" as the country's borders expanded. Legal experts Paul Schwartz and Ronald Lee examine the national security implications of rapid advances in information technology, which is increasingly driven by a highly globalized private sector, rather than by the U.S. government. Security v. Liberty shows that civil liberties are a not an immutable right, but the historically shifting result of a continuous struggle that has extended over two centuries. This important new volume provides a penetrating historical and legal analysis of the trade-offs between security and liberty that have shaped our national history—trade-offs that we confront with renewed urgency in a post-9/11 world.
States of Exception in American History brings to light the remarkable number of instances since the Founding in which the protections of the Constitution have been overridden, held in abeyance, or deliberately weakened for certain members of the polity. In the United States, derogations from the rule of law seem to have been a feature of—not a bug in—the constitutional system.
The first comprehensive account of the politics of exceptions and emergencies in the history of the United States, this book weaves together historical studies of moments and spaces of exception with conceptual analyses of emergency, the state of exception, sovereignty, and dictatorship. The Civil War, the Great Depression, and the Cold War figure prominently in the essays; so do Francis Lieber, Frederick Douglass, John Dewey, Clinton Rossiter, and others who explored whether it was possible for the United States to survive states of emergency without losing its democratic way. States of Exception combines political theory and the history of political thought with histories of race and political institutions. It is both inspired by and illuminating of the American experience with constitutional rule in the age of terror and Trump.
Technology and American History explores the technological dimension of American life from the birth of American industry in the late eighteenth century to the massive industrial systems of the late twentieth century.
Emphasizing a societal context for technology, this carefully organized collection demonstrates both the manner in which cultural, political, and economic forces shape innovation, and the ways that technology has influenced society and shaped its values. Individual essays explore the importance of textile manufacturing in American industrialization, the role of the federal government in regulating new modes of transport, the development of interchangeable parts in production, the process of innovation, the notion of technological systems, and the relationship between technological change and work in the factory, on the farm, and in the home.
The essays were selected to be accessible to both the general reader and the undergraduate student.
“By necessity, by proclivity, by delight,” Ralph Waldo Emerson said in 1876, “we all quote.” But often the phrases that fall most readily from our collective lips—like “fire when ready,” “speak softly and carry a big stick,” or “nice guys finish last”—are those whose origins and true meanings we have ceased to consider. Restoring three-dimensionality to more than fifty of these American sayings, Tippecanoe and Tyler Too turns clichés back into history by telling the life stories of the words that have served as our most powerful battle cries, rallying points, laments, and inspirations.
In individual entries on slogans and catchphrases from the early seventeenth to the late twentieth century, Jan Van Meter reveals that each one is a living, malleable entity that has profoundly shaped and continues to influence our public culture. From John Winthrop’s “We shall be as a city upon a hill” and the 1840 Log Cabin Campaign’s “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” and Ronald Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” each of Van Meter’s selections emerges as a memory device for a larger political or cultural story. Taken together in Van Meter’s able hands, these famous slogans and catchphrases give voice to our common history even as we argue about where it should lead us.
“As Van Meter argues, these are important ‘memory devices for a larger story.’ . . . The author has thoroughly researched all the catchphrases . . . . This book would make delightful in-flight reading or a nice gift for a trivia buff. Recommended.”—Choice
VC: An American History
Tom Nicholas Harvard University Press, 2019 Library of Congress HG4751.N525 2019 | Dewey Decimal 332.041540973
“In principle, venture capital is where the ordinarily conservative, cynical domain of big money touches dreamy, long-shot enterprise. In practice, it has become the distinguishing big-business engine of our time…[A] first-rate history.” —New Yorker
“An excellent and original economic history of venture capital.” —Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution
“It is an article of faith that ready access to venture capital makes an economy more dynamic. Nicholas frames the case historically.” —Wall Street Journal
“A detailed, fact-filled account of America’s most celebrated moneymen.” —New Republic
VC tells the riveting story of how the venture capital industry arose from America’s longstanding identification with entrepreneurship and risk-taking. Whether the venture is a whaling voyage setting sail from New Bedford (as in VC’s infancy) or the latest Silicon Valley startup, VC is a state of mind as much as a way of doing business, exemplified by an appetite for seeking extreme financial rewards, a tolerance for failure and experimentation, and a faith in the promise of innovation to generate new wealth.
Tom Nicholas’s authoritative history takes us on a roller coaster of entrepreneurial successes and setbacks. It describes how iconic firms like Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia invested in Genentech and Apple as it tells the larger story of VC’s birth and evolution, revealing along the way why it is such a quintessentially American institution—one that has proven difficult to recreate elsewhere.
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