Financial Founding Fathers: The Men Who Made America Rich (9780226910680): Robert E. Wright, David J. Cowen: Books. Starred Review. In this spry, smart history, Alexander Hamilton, Albert Gallatin, Stephen Girard, Nicholas Biddle and Andrew Jackson emerge as fully human characters-rather than a set of financial theories or beliefs-struggling to set the economic machine of America in motion. Wright and Cowen use biography to address financial history, showing, say, how Alexander Hamilton's life influenced his theory of finance, and how Hamilton's theory of finance influenced the United States. Readers will find that financial markets and instruments at the time were surprisingly sophisticated, and fully relevant to the discussion of finance today. Hamilton's genius lay in his Bank of the United States, established to allow America one day to compete with the foremost powers of Europe, and the story of his successors-Gallatin, Girard, and Biddle, who wisely navigated Hamilton's Bank-take readers through crises brought on by such familiar factors as speculative booms and busts, war debts, political opposition and special interests. If there is any flaw to this compelling account of the nation's early finances it is that the authors seem to lack faith in their subject's entertainment value, gilding the lily with human interest stories and catchy chapter titles like Apocalypse No. Illuminating and ingratiating, this glimpse into the economics of the nation's first century could very well serve as required reading for students of American history and economics.Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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