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The Progressive Era (Audiobook)

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This is a book that only Murray Rothbard could have written, connecting the dots between the unholy alliance of state intellectuals, big business, and politicians of both parties. The insideous result is the establishment of large industrial cartels, the triumph of institutionalized racism, the growth of government-backed trade unions, and the glorification of military exp This is a book that only Murray Rothbard could have written, connecting the dots between the unholy alliance of state intellectuals, big business, and politicians of both parties. The insideous result is the establishment of large industrial cartels, the triumph of institutionalized racism, the growth of government-backed trade unions, and the glorification of military expansion abroad. To understand the modern state, you must understand the Progressive Era. For this reason, Rothbard's posthumous masterpiece may be one of the most important books he has ever written.


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This is a book that only Murray Rothbard could have written, connecting the dots between the unholy alliance of state intellectuals, big business, and politicians of both parties. The insideous result is the establishment of large industrial cartels, the triumph of institutionalized racism, the growth of government-backed trade unions, and the glorification of military exp This is a book that only Murray Rothbard could have written, connecting the dots between the unholy alliance of state intellectuals, big business, and politicians of both parties. The insideous result is the establishment of large industrial cartels, the triumph of institutionalized racism, the growth of government-backed trade unions, and the glorification of military expansion abroad. To understand the modern state, you must understand the Progressive Era. For this reason, Rothbard's posthumous masterpiece may be one of the most important books he has ever written.

30 review for The Progressive Era (Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Athan Tolis

    Rothbard wrote quite a few books in his life. This one he did not publish. There’s a reason for that: “The Progressive Era” is not really a book. Rather, it’s a series of articles he wrote that have been put together by editor Patrick Newman. The editor has gone about his business with passion, adding massive amounts of footnotes and an introduction that seeks to pull the book together. In this tome’s defense, moreover, there is a distinct chronological order to these articles, and they are boun Rothbard wrote quite a few books in his life. This one he did not publish. There’s a reason for that: “The Progressive Era” is not really a book. Rather, it’s a series of articles he wrote that have been put together by editor Patrick Newman. The editor has gone about his business with passion, adding massive amounts of footnotes and an introduction that seeks to pull the book together. In this tome’s defense, moreover, there is a distinct chronological order to these articles, and they are bound together by prose that clearly comes from one man’s pen. Regardless, a miracle has not been pulled off here. By dint of being mere articles, the contents of the book often read like long lists of facts and names (and more names again, chiefly of J.P. Morgan bankers and associates) that one would only endure if one knew there’s only ten pages left, rather than hundreds. To make a long story short, I’m very proud of myself that I managed to finish this: it was very very dry and (precisely because it consists of independent articles) extremely repetitive. I could swear that whole pages around page 314 I’d read before in the book, but I could not find the courage to go back and see exactly where. On the flip side, even somebody like myself who resolutely does not share the ideology of the author will have to concede that this is an impressive catalog of undeniable historical facts, which may or may not add up to the narrative the author has in mind, but regardless present a side of history that has been neglected or forgotten by mainstream historians. So, for example, as a Krugman reader, I can remember his article entitled “fifty Herbert Hoovers,” which lamented the fact that in the 2008 crisis the states were not pulling their weight in stimulating the economy. A poor analogy, as it turns out! Rothbard makes a very convincing argument in the last chapter of this book that Hoover set in motion pretty much all of FDR’s New Deal and is only remembered in the wrong light because he did not push it as hard as his contemporaries might have wanted. Similarly, and with the benefit of having experienced the Greenspan put and the Bernanke QE, I was very happy to believe the argument made in the penultimate chapter of the book that the Fed has never changed its stripes and has, since its very inception, been an organization bent on promoting the interests of the financial sector. And now I’ve seen Tim Cook, who is losing the data wars to Google and Facebook, appeal for a national approach to data, I must say I totally sympathize with the author’s view that the ICC was not set up to regulate the railroads, but to protect them from competition amongst themselves. Additionally, it was very interesting (if on occasion mind-numbingly tedious, due to the county-by-county treatment) to follow the titanic Pietists vs. Liturgicals battle that characterized American post Civil War politics, how that was enmeshed with prohibition and how those two battles were entwined with the movement to give women the vote. Similarly, it was interesting to read that Teddy Roosevelt’s antitrust was mainly aimed at the trusts that opposed the biggest trust of all, that of J.P. Morgan. The conversion of the entire economy to a series of centralized cartels with guaranteed profits during WWI was fascinating to read as well and gave me flashbacks to my recent reading of Adam Tooze’s book about the Nazi war economy. On the other hand, I genuinely could not care less for the author’s fervor to discover and “expose” which historical figures were related to J.P. Morgan by blood or marriage, which suffragettes slept with each other and when or which industrialist funded what politician and why. Most importantly, the book is entitled “The Progressive Era” and the chapters that are actually dedicated to the Progressive Era itself I found to be the weakest. The author does lay out the motivations of the people who ushered in that era and makes strong arguments (sometimes even persuasive arguments) that these reforms were not enacted out of principle, but for petty, personal reasons, chiefly to do with protecting big business from nimbler small businesses. To which, of course, the correct answer is “so be it.” Especially to somebody who does not feel a need to explain why the world has become a worse place through banning child labor, establishing the FDA, giving women the vote and making education mandatory, to mention just a handful of that period’s remarkable achievements.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Donmakles

    I started reading this book a week before the Covid19 lockdown and was alternately reading it with, at first, The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and then with 1984 by George Orwell (this too is almost finished). Anyway, the book started with a foreword from Judge Andrew Napolitano and it's basically about the age of socialism and state corporatism (cronyism) in the late 19th Century and at the beginning of the 20th Century in the United States of America. Presidents of the post-Civil I started reading this book a week before the Covid19 lockdown and was alternately reading it with, at first, The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and then with 1984 by George Orwell (this too is almost finished). Anyway, the book started with a foreword from Judge Andrew Napolitano and it's basically about the age of socialism and state corporatism (cronyism) in the late 19th Century and at the beginning of the 20th Century in the United States of America. Presidents of the post-Civil War era especially, the Roosevelts, Wilson, and Hoover gave life to half of Karl Marx's wishlist (Collectivism, Big Government, Heavy Taxation, Central Banking, Regulated "Free" Market/State Capitalism, Public Education, etc.) using regulations and cronyism. The economic degeneration that we are experiencing today goes all the way back to this very era and has never been the same. Without competition, the richest moguls gain more wealth and the gap between rich and poor just grew wider and wider to this very day. Nothing much to say except read this book not just as a historical lesson but also as a warning. They did it before and they can do it again. In fact, they already did.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shane

    This was a very interesting work. If you aren't aware of the history, Rothbard started this book before he died. Instead of finishing he released to various sources most of the final chapters as essays or articles. The book takes the earlier works and combines it with those essays into one seminal work. I did drop a star because the way this was written (as separate pieces) once combined led to a great deal of duplication and general redundancy. Overall this complete edition is an in depth view o This was a very interesting work. If you aren't aware of the history, Rothbard started this book before he died. Instead of finishing he released to various sources most of the final chapters as essays or articles. The book takes the earlier works and combines it with those essays into one seminal work. I did drop a star because the way this was written (as separate pieces) once combined led to a great deal of duplication and general redundancy. Overall this complete edition is an in depth view of all the factors and motivators of the progressive era. Rothbard (or maybe the editor) did seem a bit over-interested in the sexual preferences of many members of the Settlement movement. I didn't really see any relevance there to the larger points being made about the key influences of the Settlement movement. To balance out against that chapter; the chapter on the Federal Reserve (I believe it was chapter twelve) was by itself worth the price of the book. After a thorough examination of efforts towards cartelization seeing the same moves in the banking industry leaves their motives bare. After examining the creation of the Fed, Rothbard gives a blow by blow account of the Fed's action up to and during the crash of '29 and into the Great Depression. While this book did nothing to change my already poor impressions of President Wilson it did make me take another look and reconsider the actions of Secretary and later President Hoover it seems his efforts focused progressivism into the proto-fascism of the '30s.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Eduardo Garcia-Gaspar

    Una obra póstuma, editada con material destinado a un libro no completado y material ya publicado, que dan una historia económico-política de los EEUU a partir de los 1890 hasta principio del New Deal. Con detalle impresionante, que a veces resulta tedioso, Rothbard describe la conversión de la política estadounidense, de ese sistema de economía libre a un sistema político progresista, interventor que asoció a gobierno con grandes empresas y promovió sindicatos para que los expertos dirigieran a Una obra póstuma, editada con material destinado a un libro no completado y material ya publicado, que dan una historia económico-política de los EEUU a partir de los 1890 hasta principio del New Deal. Con detalle impresionante, que a veces resulta tedioso, Rothbard describe la conversión de la política estadounidense, de ese sistema de economía libre a un sistema político progresista, interventor que asoció a gobierno con grandes empresas y promovió sindicatos para que los expertos dirigieran a la sociedad a la sociedad perfecta que creían posible. Como casi siempre, las buenas intenciones de tener al Cielo en la Tierra condujeron a decisiones, proyectos, acciones, leyes, organizaciones que retiraron libertad a las personas y aumentaron el poder de los gobernantes, las grandes empresas y los sindicatos. Difícil de leer y no para el lector aficionado, la obra será un deleite para quien quiere conocer un caso de surgimiento del régimen que quita libertades y promete lo que no puede cumplir.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John Ball

    Comprehensive, anti-collectivist history Exhaustive presentation of who, what, when, and how the progressive movement happened with frequent reminders that increasing government control inevitably reduces personal and business freedom. Good resource for small government conservatives and classical liberals. Modern progressives will probably see this book as an unrelenting attack on everything they have been taught to revere. Author makes no attempt to hide his disapproval of socialism and his con Comprehensive, anti-collectivist history Exhaustive presentation of who, what, when, and how the progressive movement happened with frequent reminders that increasing government control inevitably reduces personal and business freedom. Good resource for small government conservatives and classical liberals. Modern progressives will probably see this book as an unrelenting attack on everything they have been taught to revere. Author makes no attempt to hide his disapproval of socialism and his conviction that big money and big business have used the government to gain ever more wealth and power.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bob Bingham

    This is an excellent study of the Progressive Era. There is some overlap/repetition between chapters due to the nature of how the book was put together, but still an outstanding job by the editor. The chapter dealing with voting phenomena (comparing different geographical areas and culture) is somewhat tedious, but Rothbard needed to prove his conclusions were valid by a thorough analysis of voting trends. One of the most valuable things I took away from this book is an informed understanding of This is an excellent study of the Progressive Era. There is some overlap/repetition between chapters due to the nature of how the book was put together, but still an outstanding job by the editor. The chapter dealing with voting phenomena (comparing different geographical areas and culture) is somewhat tedious, but Rothbard needed to prove his conclusions were valid by a thorough analysis of voting trends. One of the most valuable things I took away from this book is an informed understanding of how the U.S. went from a laissez-faire economy to the corporate state we have now.

  7. 4 out of 5

    John E.

    revisionist view of the a Progressive Era The book completely revised the Progressive Era. The myths exist in most history Brooks is that the progressive era was a result of labor farm interest call for fairness and an expansion of the welfare state. According to Rothbard , virtually all progressives legislative action was a result business interests call for regulations to assist their cartels.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    Really interesting point of view. It took a while to get into this book, but once I did it was really good. The author shows how relatively small groups of financiers worked with government to essentially cartelize oil companies , railroads, unions and banks. Lots of supporting arguments. While I’m not sure I agree with all of it, most of his arguments are really well done. Good read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Josiah Richardson

    Really terrific. Rothbard traces the march of progressivism in America through the end of the American Revolution, to the federal governments intrusions, to the railroad industries grips on the people and the law, to the war machine, and far beyond. Rothbard has a good and form grip on history, even Religious history as he does a splendid job when he covers the Calvinist movement alongside the postmillennial push in American revivalism. Couldn't recommend this one enough. Really terrific. Rothbard traces the march of progressivism in America through the end of the American Revolution, to the federal governments intrusions, to the railroad industries grips on the people and the law, to the war machine, and far beyond. Rothbard has a good and form grip on history, even Religious history as he does a splendid job when he covers the Calvinist movement alongside the postmillennial push in American revivalism. Couldn't recommend this one enough.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Ogburn

    pretty good.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

    Liturgicals vs pietists is an interesting dynamic I had never heard about prior to reading this book. Also the final chapter on Herbert Hoover was particularly enlightening.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Geir

    A highly informing book with multiple very educational insights. Rothbard was a brilliant historian.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jared Lovell

    My favorite Murray Rothbard book. I echo Paul Gottfried's words on this book: "the best resource on the Progressive era in the English language." My favorite Murray Rothbard book. I echo Paul Gottfried's words on this book: "the best resource on the Progressive era in the English language."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Will Alex

    Brutally extensive but so very informative. Rothbard highlights so many different important events and people from the era.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Malice

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shaun Van Beverhoudt

  17. 5 out of 5

    Scott Wood

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael DeVinney

  19. 5 out of 5

    David

  20. 4 out of 5

    gabriel ludwig

  21. 4 out of 5

    Filip

  22. 5 out of 5

    Leo

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jasyn Saffo

  24. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Berg

  25. 5 out of 5

    Vulfgang Mori

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jason Hiltz

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ulick Varange

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

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