Red, white and blue businessJust in time for the Fourth of July and summer reading, a collection of essays by John Steele Gordon beats with a patriotic undertone. The business historian and author culled the best of his monthly columns from American Heritage magazine to create a splendid summer reading diversion, The Business of America. These thought-provoking, deceptively simple, yet amusing columns combine to create a powerful history of the American landscape as well as the American economy. Gordon includes his well-known essay "The Tragedy of the Commons," a classic look at the economic policy that imperils the ocean and its resources. Serious fun erupts, however, as he relates the story of the creation of Liederkranz cheese, one of America's three indigenous cheese creations. (Do you know what the other two are?) Gordon writes with humor and a sharp eye for the details of American commerce. He imbues these essays, however, with an unerring sense of history and a careful accuracy. I'd be surprised if you, like I, did not want to read more about the stories he tells. Fortunately, he includes a wonderful bibliography for each essay that encourages the budding historian in all of us to read on.
Sometimes, Gordon says "economic history like economics is . . . thought to be deadly dull. But . . . I have always loved the tales of adventure and daring to be found in economic history and fascinating men (and, now, increasingly women) who made it." After reading this book, business maven or not, you will agree with Gordon that the business of America is a fascinating topic.