The Rise and Fall of American Growth

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346 Ratings

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5 out of 5 stars
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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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
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

1 out of 5 stars
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

3 out of 5 stars
By Andrew E. Cox on 05-19-18

Most of the major innovations already happened

Robert Gordon's is considered one of the key economists to contribute to our current understanding of productivity growth. His purpose is to tackle the problem of why productivity appears to have slowed down since the 1970s. Gordon's basic thesis is that during the Gilded Age most of the major innovations such as running water, basic health care, electricity, labor-saving devices in the home, and the automobile were one-time innovations that helped society leap ahead in terms of standard of living. But he contends that clusters of innovations of that magnitude are rare and most of the innovations we currently see cannot make the same degree of impact on our standard of living. Gordon's answer for how to improve our current status is a standard center-left policy basket of support for unions, progressive taxation, and the like.

The book is stuffed with detailed analysis of a huge range of data and it also provides rich accounts of everyday life from the Gilded Age up through the turn of the 21st century. The focus on data is necessary because his audience is other economists, historians, and policy makers; The vast data explorations are necessary for defending his thesis against intelligent criticism. Unfortunately the heavy emphasis on data the book does not make for scintillating listening since the comparisons he makes are much more accessible visually. Were he to have spent as much time on why current innovations are less impactful as well as exploring the trade-offs of his proposed policy solutions the book would have been more gripping. The narrator makes the most of it but there is only so much he can do.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
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

5 out of 5 stars
By I Loza on 03-23-18

informative analysis

very detailed analysis on the explosive growth in the US economy and it's decline since the 1970s.

I applaud the performance on this audio book, 30 hours of recorded material is no light matter!

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