American Entrepreneur

The Fascinating Stories of the People Who Defined Business in the United States

 American Entrepreneur

Authors: Larry Schweikart, Ph.D., Lynne Pierson Doti, Ph.D.
Pub Date: September 2009
Print Edition: $29.95
Print ISBN: 9780814438596
Page Count: 544
Format: Paper or Softback
Edition: Paperback edition
e-Book ISBN: 9780814414125

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When the first colonists landed on America’s shores, looking for independence and a new way of life, it wasn’t long before they made a mark for themselves—not just through the establishment of an independent government, but through their efforts as businessmen in a capitalist society. Since its very first days, America has been a society of entrepreneurs, men and women who gambled everything on an idea for a product or service they believed would fulfill a want or a need in their fellow citizens, earning them a fortune in the process.

From Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, to the steel and refining industries of business giants like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, to computer- and Internet-era entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, the business of America has always been business. American Entrepreneur captures the excitement and drama behind the history of business in the United States through the fascinating stories of the individuals who made it happen.

With its sights set on economic freedom, free enterprise, and clear definitions of ownership, private property, and the right to acquisition, America was founded on the belief that anyone could—and should—compete in a business-centered landscape, and then reap the benefit of those rewards. But what makes an entrepreneur? Are there special characteristics common to those throughout history who have succeeded in their business ventures, often in the face of discouragement and other larger competing enterprises?

American Entrepreneur examines the common—and uncommon—threads and patterns that accompany the greatest stories of the most famous and illuminating successes—and failures—of entrepreneurship in the United States. The book uncovers the backstories of the fantastic, original American business ventures whose beginnings melded risk and dedication, sometimes at great personal cost. It tells the tales of people from all walks of life and backgrounds—from Harvard MBAs to penniless immigrants—who defied any simple capsule definition of success to become the heroes of American capitalism.

Drawing on economic theorists such as Adam Smith, Joseph Schumpeter, and Max Weber, and combining history with the captivating human forces behind the country’s great business enterprises, the book charts the logical yet exceptional development of our continuous capitalistic legacy. It relates the behind-the-scenes developments of Andrew Carnegie’s steel company, John D. Rockefeller’s refining business, and the banking enterprises of J. P. Morgan, moving ahead to detail the manner in which the coming Great Depression winnowed down existing businesses, while at the same time Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal placed onerous burdens on those that survived.

Authors Larry Schweikart and Lynne Pierson Doti explore the ways in which World War II and its aftermath affected “capitalist folk-heroes” like Andrew Jackson Higgins and Henry Kaiser, while emerging figures in such areas as fast food (Ray Kroc) and music (Berry Gordy) rose to success in the decades following. The book charts the American business renaissance of the 1980s, including the most important invention of the late 20th century, the personal computer, followed by the dot-com bust of 2001. The book concludes with the inspiring rebirth of American business following the 9/11 attacks, as America once again began to lead the world in productivity and innovation in the 21st century . . . with an entirely new cast of entrepreneurs.

American Entrepreneur weaves together the epic story of American business, capturing the adventurous spirit of the country’s greatest and most fascinating business pioneers.

LARRY SCHWEIKART, Ph.D., a history professor at the University of Dayton, is the author or coauthor of many books, including A Patriot’s History of the United States and 48 Liberal Lies About American History. He lives in Centerville, Ohio.

LYNNE PIERSON DOTI, Ph.D., is a professor of economics at Chapman University and served as director of the Leatherby Entrepreneurship Center there. She lives in Orange, California.

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