Summary List Placement
Fifty years ago, capitalism in the West was based on manufacturing which provided well-paid, lifelong jobs and close to full employment. By the 1970s and 1980s that system was carrying a layer of credit and debt that made it more lucrative for banks to extract profits from deals and transactions than to provide finance for the creation of actual products.
Then, in the 1990s, the burgeoning tech industry made physical products even less relevant — and even more lucrative for investors and speculators.
These classic non-fiction books tell the story of how modern capitalism in the West changed from a system that made actual things into a trading desk for bonds, credit derivatives, and leverage … and created modern inequality along the way.
We’ve arranged the books chronologically according to the period of history they cover. If you read them in this order you’ll see how one segues into the next, and how dramatically capitalism has changed in the last 50 years.
LORDS OF FINANCE: 1929, The Great Depression, and the Bankers who Broke the World
Writer Liaquat Ahamed tells the story of the crash of 1929 told from the point of view of the central bank chiefs of the US, Britain, France, and Germany.
It’s a fantastically detailed personal account — based on letters and diaries — of the men who controlled the world’s currencies during the historic financial crisis that continues to dominate how we think about economics today.
The power of the drama lies in the book’s gradually unfolding revelation that those in charge of the great banks of the day did not themselves truly understand how capitalism worked (even though many of their colleagues had personal fortunes at stake) as they made error after error after error …
BUY: “Lords of Finance” by Liaquat Ahamed, 2010.
RANK AND FILE (1973): The brutal, forgotten history of ordinary people who faced down death threats to get decent pay and safety standards at work.
“Rank and File” is an oral history of the lives of a dozen workers’ rights activists during the six decades to the end of the 1960s, a period in which Americans went from being little more than slaves to the best-paid employees on the planet.
Pursuing the American Dream in the mines, steelworks, and meat yards sometimes meant risking your life, as authors Alice and Staughton Lynd recount in this often overlooked book.
Jock Yablonski, for instance, was shot to death in his Clarksville, Pennsylvania, home, along with his wife and daughter, on New Year’s Eve, 1967. Their bodies were discovered six days later. They were murdered because Yablonski stood in a union election against the president of the United Mine Workers, whom Yablonski believed was more concerned with mine owners’ interests than that of miners.
It’s grueling stuff — but required reading if you want to know what “blue-collar” really meant in the days when work was done in factories rather than offices.
BUY: “Rank and File; Personal Histories by Working Class Organizers” – Alice and Staughton Lynd, 1973.
BARBARIANS AT THE GATE (1989): An epic thriller …read more
Source:: Business Insider