What We Are Reading Today: Ghosts of Gold Mountain

Updated 01 June 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Ghosts of Gold Mountain

In this groundbreaking account, award-winning scholar Gordon H. Chang draws on unprecedented research to recover the Chinese railroad workers’ stories and celebrate their role in remaking America.
Chang, professor of humanities and history at Stanford University, has written a fascinating account of the labor and technology involved in building the Transcontinental Railroad.
Hired at sub-market wages, which were still more than they might have imagined earning at home, thousands of Chinese men risked their lives to make the railroad a reality.
Ghosts of Gold Mountain “is nothing less than a fantastic feat of scholarship that not merely shines a spotlight onto a group that have nearly vanished from America’s historical memory, but makes them all come alive again,” said a review published in goodreads.com.
A lack of primary sources detailing the lives of the men who built one half of the transcontinental railroad — not a single diary and only a few letters — means Chang is forced to rely on payroll documents, inventory lists, folk songs, and other such sources to piece together his story.


What We Are Reading Today: GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History

Updated 14 August 2020

What We Are Reading Today: GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History

Author: Diane Coyle

Why did the size of the US  economy increase by 3 percent in one day in mid-2013—or Ghana’s balloon by 60 percent overnight in 2010? Why did the UK financial industry show its fastest expansion ever at the end of 2008—just as the world’s financial system went into meltdown? And why was Greece’s chief statistician charged with treason in 2013 for apparently doing nothing more than trying to accurately report the size of his country’s economy? The answers to all these questions lie in the way we define and measure national economies around the world: Gross Domestic Product. This entertaining and informative book tells the story of GDP, making sense of a statistic that appears constantly in the news, business, and politics, and that seems to rule our lives—but that hardly anyone actually understands.
Diane Coyle traces the history of this artificial, abstract, complex, but exceedingly important statistic from its 18th- and 19th-century precursors through its invention in the 1940s and its postwar golden age, and then through the Great Crash up to today.
The reader learns why this standard measure of the size of a country’s economy was invented.