The Rise and Fall of American Growth

Customer Reviews

306 Ratings

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By isaiah on 09-13-16

The book is a great review of how we got to where we are today

I loved the review of the industrial revolution and learning where various technological changes came from. His suggestions of how to increase American growth seemed pretty standard though. I was disappointed with that. It seemed like he just phoned in that part of the book. We've heard all those recommendations before. The book is worth the time though.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

By Connie on 11-03-16

Excellent Book, Too many charts for listening

I enjoyed this book, particularly the comparisons of life in the US before and after 1870.There are too many charts and numbers in this book to always allow one to only listen. Book was written to be read "in person" with numbers and charts available for viewing and reviewing. The performance was technically well done, but somehow off-putting and slightly irritating. Still all in all I listened to the entire book and am happy that I bought it.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

By Amazon Customer on 01-31-17

Over-detailed, with no engaging message

What disappointed you about The Rise and Fall of American Growth?

If you are looking to get a critical, deep and informed view of american economy in last century, you should look for another book. This book is not the type that will leave you with any food for thought.

For instance the book goes literally pages and pages throwing an absurd amount of numbers, dates, percentages,... to just show how AC units become smaller and lighter in a period of two decades. A simple fact like this needs only one sentence or two, and then the reader is ready to get the writers message, if there is any. What happens with this book is that reader (listener) goes on and on trying to focus on long paragraphs of chart description and numbers and dates, waiting for the writer to sum it up and get to a conclusion, a view point or a critical thought on the issue, only to get disappointed.

The only message that the author has (and he iterates it over and over in different chapters) is this: The growth (in other words improvement in people's lives) has been huge in 20th century because the departure point was near zero, so any increase felt huge, but now that we are fairly advanced it is almost impossible to come up with such growth ( such improvement in people's lives) in such a short amount of time. For example, in a matter of 2 decades in early 1900s, flush toilets came to nearly all houses and that dramatically improved life expectancy (say 5 years) by eliminating water borne diseases. But now in 2000s if we want to increase life expectancy by same 5 years (having same "growth") it is not as easy as making a toilet, now we have to do cancer research instead.

I basically doubt if this is an important or valuable point of view anyways, but even if it was, it could be well developed in a 3 page article and did not need a 700+ page book.

This book is only good for you if you love details of how people lived in early 20th century, how daily tasks were done, how people worked, what the wore, what they ate...and so forth. but if you are looking for food for thought, you will be disappointed.

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful

By Reese on 10-02-16

good book. OK audio book.

love economics and hearing about how the world has changed in the past 100 years. this book does rely on lots of charts and graphs so the listener is often lost following along but over all worth a listen.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

By William J Brown on 01-17-18

Fantastic and must listen-to … but boring delivery

This book is so full of fascinating incites, which isn’t easy given its length, that I could and probably will listen to it a second or even third time. I made numerous bookmarks. It should be a required text in any economics or civics curriculum. It’s essential listening.

Book the narration is SO FLAT and uninspired. Perhaps an editor could have helped prepare the content for listeners, because it’s vitally important material.

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By Christopher Fountain on 11-15-17

Dry, but informative

To be honest, this book is tough to get through. Even though it covers a subject I have a lot of interest in, I must have started and finished at least ten other books between the time I started this one, and the day I finally finished it.

He gets 4 stars for his excellent job compiling data, but his conclusions are iffy, and he stepped outside of his expertise with some speculation a few times (e.g. diet comments stuck out to me). Conservative economist Deirdre McCloskey said in and interview that, "Bob Gordon lost his mind," in reference to this book. That doesn't mean he is wrong, but you can guess where his conclusions lean.

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