How a Struggling Colony Became an Economic Colossus

“The United States occupies 6 percent of the world’s land mass and has 6 percent of its people, but it accounts for nearly a third of the world’s gross domestic product and leads in nearly every category of economic competition. How did this happen?

That is the question addressed by John Steele Gordon in his colorful, entertaining history of the American economy, ‘An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power.’ Mr. Gordon, a columnist for American Heritage who has written a history of Wall Street and the laying of the trans-Atlantic cable, does not offer much in the way of analysis. Rather, he presents the essential ideas and innovations that have propelled the American economy since its earliest days, and illustrates them with striking examples. He has produced the written equivalent of a PBS ‘American Experience’ documentary, a gaudy cavalcade of facts, outsize personalities and fascinating inventions that moves along at a brisk clip.”

More here by William Grimes in the New York Times.