The Rise of Big Business, 1860-1920

The Rise of Big Business, 1860-1920

The Rise of Big Business, 1860-1920

The Rise of Big Business, 1860-1920


The fundamental and explosive changes in the U. S. economy and its business system from 1860 to 1920 continue to fascinate and engage historians, economists, and sociologists. While many disagreements persist about the motivations of the actors, most scholars roughly agree on the central shifts in technologies and markets that called forth big business. Recent scholarship, however, has revealed important new insights into the changing cultural values and sensibilities of Americans who lived during the time, on women in business, on the ties between the emerging corporations and other American institutions, on the nature of competition among giant firms, and on the dawn of modern advertising and consumerism.

This vast accumulation of notable new work on the social concept and consequences of economic change in that era has prompted Glenn Porter to recast numerous portions of The Rise of Big Business, one of Harlan Davidson's most successful titles ever, in this, the third edition. Those familiar with this classic text will appreciate the expanded coverage of topics beyond the fray of regulation and the political dimensions of the emergence of concentrated enterprise, namely the influence of the rise of big business on social history.

An entirely new bank of photographs and illustrations rounds out the latest edition of our enduringly popular title, one perfect for supplementary reading in a variety of courses including the U. S. history survey, the history of American business, and specialized courses in social history and the Gilded Age.


Every generation writes its own history for the reason that it sees the past in the foreshortened perspective of its own experience. This has surely been true of the writing of American history. The practical aim of our historiography is to give us a more informed sense of where we are going by helping us understand the road we took in getting where we are. As the nature and dimensions of American life are changing, so too are the themes of our historical writing. Today's scholars are hard at work reconsidering every major aspect of the nation's past: its politics, diplomacy, economy, society, recreation, mores and values, as well as status, ethnic, race, sexual, and family relations. The lists of series titles that appear on the inside covers of this book will show at once that our historians are ever broadening the range of their studies.

The aim of this series is to offer our readers a survey of what today's historians are saying about the central themes and aspects of the American past. To do this, we have invited to write for the series only scholars who have made notable contributions to the respective fields in which they are working. Drawing on primary and secondary materials, each volume presents a factual and narrative account of its particular subject, one that affords readers a basis for perceiving its larger dimensions and importance. Conscious that readers respond to the closeness and immediacy of a subject, each of our authors seeks to restore the past as an actual present, to revive it as a living reality. The individuals and groups who figure in the pages of our books ap-

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