I first came in contact with UT-Austin professor of history H. W. Brands when he spoke to a luncheon group I was with in Austin. Later I caught up with his book, Lone Star Nation, which is a really good history of Texas. This book, the full name of which is American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900, published in 2010, is a masterful telling of how America was transformed from the almost totally agrarian antebellum society to the economic and military world leadership role it had assumed by the turn of the century. It is sweeping history, comprising over 600 pages, but it is never boring. In fact, part of its attraction is that, beyond the usual recounting of the stories of Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan, Vanderbilt, et al, which are certainly there, he weaves in some very comprehensive narrative on regional development, local political dynamics, the constant tension between capitalism and our democratic values, which is a major theme of the book, and peppers it all with a wide range of personalities from all walks of life, all of whom contributed to the societal transformation. A fun read.
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