The Constitution of American Industrial Order, 1865-1917
Alternative Tracks provides a novel interpretation of industrialization and political development in the United States. Focusing on the critical case of railroads, Gerald Berk shows that alternative forms of economic organization and governmental regulation existed in the late nineteenth century. Constitutional choices, not technological imperatives or economic interests, determined the outcome in the twentieth century: a centralized industry regulated according to liberal principles of redistribution. Alternative Tracks reveals a nineteenth-century rival to this political economy—an equally efficient and more democratic system of regional railroads regulated according to republican principles.
About the Author
Gerald Berk is associate professor of political science at the University of Oregon.
A lean but provocative, timely, insightful, and forcefully written challenge to the conventional wisdom about industrial America's political economy.
[A] model of sophisticated social science history... Berk forcefully rebuts the assumption found in nearly all historical accounts that the railroad structure that developed was inevitable... As effectively as anyone has, he makes a formidable case that it could have been otherwise.
Berk's first-rate study... connects insights from history of technology, law, political science, and organizational history.
Berk has offered some powerful questions for future scholars to keep in mind, and no student of railroad history or the history of business can afford to overlook this book.
An ambitious effort to make sense of how the modern American state was fashioned.
Berk's concise volume... provides a reinterpretation along corporate liberal lines of the factors leading to the rise of the great interregional railroad systems in America during latter half of the nineteenth century.
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