933 episodes

Interviews with scholars of the economic and business history about their new books

New Books in Economic and Business History New Books Network

    • Arts

Interviews with scholars of the economic and business history about their new books

    American Innovation, American Vitality: A Conversation with Chris Buskirk

    American Innovation, American Vitality: A Conversation with Chris Buskirk

    How can we restore America's frontier spirit, foster innovation, and stave off decay? Chris Buskirk sits down to discuss his new book America and the Art of the Possible: Restoring National Vitality in an Age of Decay. Along the way, he delves into the history of innovation from Augustan Rome to the Scottish Enlightenment to Silicon Valley, whether America is an oligarchy or an aristocracy, how our education system can better support American needs, and more.
    Chris Buskirk is the founder, editor, publisher of the magazine American Greatness, as well as a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. A serial entrepreneur, he is also the Founder & Chief Investment Officer of 1789 Capital.
    Contributions to and/or sponsorship of any event does not constitute departmental or institutional endorsement of the specific program, speakers or views presented.
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    • 1 hr 1 min
    Daniel P. Ott, "Harvesting History: McCormick's Reaper, Heritage Branding, and Historical Forgery" (U Nebraska Press, 2023)

    Daniel P. Ott, "Harvesting History: McCormick's Reaper, Heritage Branding, and Historical Forgery" (U Nebraska Press, 2023)

    Cyrus McCormick invented the revolutionary mechanical reaper in 1831...right? At least, that's how the story has been told for decades. In Harvesting History: McCormick's Reaper, Heritage Branding, and Historical Forgery (U Nebraska Press, 2023), National Park Service historian Daniel Ott argues that not only have textbooks and other sources of historical knowledge gotten this wrong, but that they've done so because of a massive PR campaign. Ott argues that McCormick, his family, and the company that bears his name, all engaged in a multi-decade long fight to convince potential buyers that their reaper was the first, and given the potentially millions of dollars at stake in a competitive farm implement marketplace, claiming so was no exercise in arcane trivia. In the late 19th and early 20th century. McCormick's company recruited salesmen, advertisers, and newly professionalized historians to shape a narrative about the reaper that sanded over the complex and contingent nature of its invention, and turned McCormick into an American hero. The history told by these groups was malleable enough to fit changing times, as populists and progressives came and went - the claim of "first" gave McCormick's reaper credibility its competitiors could never match. Harvesting History is a story about the importance of getting the story right, and why some people will go to great lengths to make sure we keep getting the story wrong.
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    • 1 hr 4 min
    Rob Drew, "Unspooled: How the Cassette Made Music Shareable" (Duke UP, 2023)

    Rob Drew, "Unspooled: How the Cassette Made Music Shareable" (Duke UP, 2023)

    Well into the new millennium, the analog cassette tape continues to claw its way back from obsolescence. New cassette labels emerge from hipster enclaves while the cassette’s likeness pops up on T-shirts, coffee mugs, belt buckles, and cell phone cases. In Unspooled: How the Cassette Made Music Shareable (Duke University Press, 2024), Dr. Rob Drew traces how a lowly, hissy format that began life in office dictation machines and cheap portable players came to be regarded as a token of intimate expression through music and a source of cultural capital.
    Drawing on sources ranging from obscure music zines to transcripts of Congressional hearings, Dr. Drew examines a moment in the early 1980s when music industry representatives argued that the cassette encouraged piracy. At the same time, 1980s indie rock culture used the cassette as a symbol to define itself as an outsider community. Indie’s love affair with the cassette culminated in the mixtape, which advanced indie’s image as a gift economy. By telling the cassette’s long and winding history, Dr. Drew demonstrates that sharing cassettes became an acceptable and meaningful mode of communication that initiated rituals of independent music recording, re-recording, and gifting.
    This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose new book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.
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    • 44 min
    Constantin Ardeleanu, "Steamboat Modernity: Travel, Transport, and Social Transformation on the Lower Danube, 1830–1860" (CEU Press, 2024)

    Constantin Ardeleanu, "Steamboat Modernity: Travel, Transport, and Social Transformation on the Lower Danube, 1830–1860" (CEU Press, 2024)

    Through a skillful combination of economic and cultural history, this book describes the impact on Moldavia and Wallachia of steam navigation on the Danube. The Danube route integrated the two principalities into a dense network of European roads and waterways. From the 1830s to the 1860s, steamboat transport transformed time and space for the areas that benefited from regular services. River traffic accelerated urban development along the Lower Danube and contributed directly to institutional modernization in one of Europe's peripheries. Beyond technological advances and the transportation of goods on a trans-imperial waterway, steamboat travel revolutionized human interactions, too. Steamboat Modernity: Travel, Transport, and Social Transformation on the Lower Danube, 1830–1860 (CEU Press, 2024) offers a fascinating insight into the social and cultural milieu of the nineteenth century, drawing on first-hand accounts of Danube cruising. 
    Describing the story of travelers who interacted, met, and visited the places they stopped, Constantin Ardeleanu creates a transnational history of travel up and down the Danube from Vienna to Constantinople. The pleasures and sometimes the travails of the travelers unfold against a backdrop of technical and economic transformation in the crucial period of modernization.
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    • 1 hr 11 min
    Priya Satia, "Empire of Guns: The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution" (Bloomsbury, 2019)

    Priya Satia, "Empire of Guns: The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution" (Bloomsbury, 2019)

    From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, the industrial revolution transformed Britain from an agricultural and artisanal economy to one dominated by industry, ushering in unprecedented growth in technology and trade and putting the country at the center of the global economy. But the commonly accepted story of the industrial revolution, anchored in images of cotton factories and steam engines invented by unfettered geniuses, overlooks the true root of economic and industrial expansion: the lucrative military contracting that enabled the country's near-constant state of war in the eighteenth century. Demand for the guns and other war materiel that allowed British armies, navies, mercenaries, traders, settlers, and adventurers to conquer an immense share of the globe in turn drove the rise of innumerable associated industries, from metalworking to banking.
    Bookended by the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, Empire of Guns: The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution (Bloomsbury, 2019) traces the social and material life of British guns over a century of near-constant war and violence at home and abroad. Priya Satia develops this story through the life of prominent British gun-maker and Quaker Samuel Galton Jr., who was asked to answer for the moral defensibility of producing guns as new uses like anonymous mass violence rose. Reconciling the pacifist tenet of his faith with his perception of the economic realities of the time, Galton argued that war was driving the industrial economy, making everyone inescapably complicit in it. Through his story, Satia illuminates Britain's emergence as a global superpower, the roots of the government's role in economic development, and the origins of our own era's debates over gun control and military contracting.
    Priya Satia is the Raymond A. Spruance Professor of International History and Professor of British History at Stanford University. She is the author of Spies in Arabia: The Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain's Covert Empire in the Middle East (2009), and her writing has appeared in Slate, the Financial Times, the Nation, and the Huffington Post, among other publications.
    Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Twitter.
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    • 53 min
    Adriana Chira, "Patchwork Freedoms: Law, Slavery, and Race beyond Cuba's Plantations" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

    Adriana Chira, "Patchwork Freedoms: Law, Slavery, and Race beyond Cuba's Plantations" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

    In nineteenth-century Santiago de Cuba, the island of Cuba's radical cradle, Afro-descendant peasants forged freedom and devised their own formative path to emancipation. Drawing on understudied archives, this pathbreaking work, Patchwork Freedoms: Law, Slavery, and Race beyond Cuba's Plantations (Cambridge UP, 2022) unearths a new history of Black rural geography and popular legalism, and offers a new framework for thinking about nineteenth-century Black freedom. Santiago de Cuba's Afro-descendant peasantries did not rely on liberal-abolitionist ideologies as a primary reference point in their struggle for rights. Instead, they negotiated their freedom and land piecemeal, through colonial legal frameworks that allowed for local custom and manumission. While gradually wearing down the institution of slavery through litigation and self-purchase, they reimagined colonial racial systems before Cuba's intellectuals had their say. Long before residents of Cuba protested for national independence and island-wide emancipation in 1868, it was Santiago's Afro-descendant peasants who, gradually and invisibly, laid the groundwork for emancipation.
    Kishauna Soljour is an Assistant Professor of Public Humanities at San Diego State University. Her most recent writing appears in the edited collection: From Rights to Lives: The Evolution of the Black Freedom Struggle.
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    • 40 min

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