Witnesses the post-World War II economic development of America, noting how the country shifted from a mentality of thrift and self-depravation to one of unmatched demand and material gain, enabling the creation of such items as televisions and microwaves.
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ROBERT SOBEL was a financial historian and Lawrence Stessin Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Business History at Hofstra University. The author of numerous books, including Panic on Wall Street (1968), The Entrepreneurs (1974), IBM (1981) and When Giants Stumble (1999), Sobel was also a journalist for ten years, writing a weekly column for Newsday as well as a regular contributor to Barron's. Additional articles and reviews appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Robert Sobel died in June 1999.From Kirkus Reviews:
A rigorous, engaging assessment of the impressive post-WWII economic growth in the US by the late business historian Sobel (Coolidge, 1998, etc.). Like the teacher he was for more than 40 years, Sobel begins with a question: How did Americans who in 1945 imagined their futures might not be particularly bright come to accomplish so much during the ensuing fifty-plus years? Throughout the remainder of this comprehensive work he provides a variety of answers, most of which flatter--deservedly so--his coevals, Tom Brokaw's greatest generation (Sobel alludes to Brokaw's book more than once). Sobel establishes that the GI's returning from WWII felt a generalized lack of confidence--after all, they had lived through both the Great Depression and a devastating war. But they possessed, he writes, the values of hard work and dedication and the determination to improve not only their own lives but the lives of their descendants. Sobel argues that the most important factors fueling the unprecedented accumulation of wealth were home ownership (he has an enlightening account of the development of Levittown and the ensuing suburbia), education (he credits the GI Bill), and entrepreneurship (he discusses many ventures (from McDonald's to Yahoo!). President Reagan emerges as a sort of cultural hero in this account: Sobel assails critics of Reagan's economic policies (stockholders profited during the corporate-raiding 1980s, he observes) and identifies as Reagan's defining moment the breaking of the PATCO strike. Sobel also leans right in his social criticism, sniping at 1960s campus radicals and at universities' declining academic standards. His reply to the question of why so many people remain in poverty is the cold comment that there will always be some who cannot handle capitalism and freedom. The book ends with a sanguine view of a future with boundless possibilities. Conservative in bent, expansive in scope, sedulous in scholarship, often wise and wonderful. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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