The Real Cause Of American Growth

Judging from all the hype, the economic book of 2016 is Robert Gordon’s The Rise and Fall of American Growth. Gordon’s book offers the definitive account of how the many technological innovations between 1870 and 1940 dramatically improved life in the United States. On the positive side, he accurately chronicles the major advances in electricity, public sanitation, pharmacology, and communications—and documents the rise of the internal combustion engine. But on the negative side, the book is utterly silent on why American society was capable of making such a radical transformation during that period.