What We Are Reading Today: Experimental Capitalism

Updated 13 November 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Experimental Capitalism

Author: Steven Klepper

For much of the 20th century, American corporations led the world in terms of technological progress. Why did certain industries have such great success? Experimental Capitalism examines six key industries — automobiles, pneumatic tires, television receivers, semiconductors, lasers, and penicillin— and tracks the highs and lows of American high-tech capitalism and the resulting innovation landscape.
Employing “nanoeconomics“— a deep dive into the formation and functioning of companies — Steven Klepper determines how specific companies emerged to become the undisputed leaders that altered the course of their industry’s evolution.
Klepper delves into why a small number of firms came to dominate their industries for many years after an initial period of tumult, including General Motors, Firestone, and Intel.
Even though capitalism is built on the idea of competition among many, he shows how the innovation process naturally led to such dominance. Klepper explores how this domination influenced the search for further innovations.
He also considers why industries cluster in specific geographical areas, such as semiconductors in northern California, cars in Detroit, and tires in Akron. He finds that early leading firms serve as involuntary training grounds for the next generation of entrepreneurs who spin off new firms into the surrounding region.

Klepper concludes his study with a discussion of the impact of government and the potential for policy to enhance a nation’s high-tech industrial base.
A culmination of a lifetime of research and thought, Experimental Capitalism takes a dynamic look at how new ideas and innovations led to America’s economic primacy.


What We Are Reading Today: The Dreamt Land by Mark Arax

Updated 17 June 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The Dreamt Land by Mark Arax

  • The Dreamt Land weaves reportage, history, and memoir to confront the “golden state” myth in riveting fashion

California-style agriculture has created one of the most unequal societies on earth because extensive irrigation requires large corporations with deep pockets, says Mark Arax, author of The Dreamt Land.

The Dreamt Land weaves reportage, history, and memoir to confront the “golden state” myth in riveting fashion. 

“Arax is persistent and tough as he treks from desert to delta, mountain to valley. What he finds is hard earned, awe-inspiring, tragic and revelatory. In the end, his compassion for the land becomes an elegy to the dream that created California and now threatens to undo it,” said a review in goodreads.com. “It is a beautifully written book and one that lots of people ought to be required to read,” the review said.

Critic Gary Krist says in a review for The New York Times: “Granted, there are times when The Dreamt Land feels overstuffed and chaotically organized, as if Arax decided to include every relevant newspaper feature he’s ever proposed to an editor. But I suspect that few other journalists could have written a book as personal and authoritative.”