The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age
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The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  143 ratings  ·  14 reviews
A classic examination of the roots of corporate culture, newly revised and updated for the twenty first century

Alan Trachtenberg presents a balanced analysis of the expansion of capitalist power in the last third of the nineteenth century and the cultural changes it brought in its wake. In America's westward expansion, labor unrest, newly powerful cities, and newly mechani
Paperback, 25th Anniversary Edition, 296 pages
Published February 6th 2007 by Hill and Wang (first published March 1982)
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A classic look at the changes in American society during the 1870s--- the years of Twain's "Gilded Age", the the years of railway expansion and labour violence and the emergence of the corporation as a key feature of the American economy. Trachtenberg looks at the shifting of meaning within the American view of labour--- the ways in which the pre-1865 Republican ideal of "free labour", the ideal of the autonomous skilled labourer who would one day be a proprietor and a property owner was replace...more
I don't share the author's clearly socialist sympathies, but this book really defines the strengths and possibilities of cultural history. In a series of thoughtfully-constructed and highly readable chapters, Trachtenberg explains how nearly all elements of late 19th-century American life -- everything from U.S. government policy regarding Western land and resources, to labor unions, to architecture, and beyond -- meshed together to support the emerging corporate capitalist order. Truly fascinat...more
Mike Hankins
The sweeping changes in technology, society, politics, and business in the latter half of the nineteenth century are fairly obvious to most observers and well-trodden in the historiography. However, Alan Trachtenberg's The Incorporation of America provides fresh insight into the period through his study of culture, with specific attention to the tension between the cultural impetus of the lower class as opposed to the middle and upper classes. Trachtenberg's main contention is that the growing n...more
While a touch dry at moments, and oddly organized, Trachtenberg gives a nuanced, in-depth look at the culture and ideas of the early decades of 20th century America. A classic of cultural history.
Ann Mcelligott
The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age" was published in 1982 and reissued in 2007 with a new introduction and a revised bibliographic essay. Trachtenberg explores how the industrial revolution and the expansion of the capitalist system influenced culture in the United States. Each chapter explores a theme of social history in light of the changing images and myths shaping the changing culture: Westward expansion, mechanization, the separation of labor and capital an...more
Michael Hattem
Alan Trachtenberg’s The Incorporation of America argues that the rise of corporatization— the hierarchical, managed structure of the corporate world—in the Gilded Age fundamentally restructured American culture in ways that were deeply antipodean to the nation’s cultural past causing cultural conflict on a number of fronts. The book begins by looking at a number of myths that arose in the wake of the rise of business. In the first chapter, Trachtenberg explores the myth of the West as “an emblem...more
"The Incorporation of America," indeed anything by Alan Trachtenberg, is a classic text in American Studies. That said, today it feels a bit dated and myopic-- particularly on questions of race and class. Trachtenberg defines incorporation broadly to include many kinds of social change and corporate organization. Interested more in the level of meaning and understanding, Trachtenberg performs rhetorical analysis of the era's texts (including visual art) to discern how historical actors understoo...more
This is an early (well, mid year) front runner for best book I've read all year. It is also one of the first books I've read that I purchased solely based on an recommendation. Kudos to you, faceless computer program you may be, but you DO recommend good books. I'm quite sure I could have lived the entire rest of my life and never had any one recommend this book to me in causal (or non-casual) conversation.
Trachtenburg, a Professor of American Studies, picks up where author...more
Aug 26, 2008 Vicki rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Vicki by: Mark Wild
Shelves: historical-books
Interesting argument. Analyzes the development of corporate America and the conflict of cultural values that emerge. I particularly like the last chapter on the White City which is used as a culminating case study to tie the author's argument together. The Colombian Exposition in Chicago is a fascinating event to research. Even if you aren't interested in reading this book a search online for it will reveal the world of conflict that existed during the Gilded Age.
A fascinating look at the role that incorporation has had on the politics and culture of America. A "classic" book (first came out in 1982), _The Incorporation of America_ deftly traces the roots of what Ike later called "the military industrial complex" and the ways in which "democracy"/"culture" shifted as terms to mean "power"/"hierarchy." An engaging read.
Mar 20, 2012 Alison rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: American history fans
Recommended to Alison by: Read for a class
I enjoyed this book. It looks at the Industrial Revolution in the United States through the lenses of culture. Provides really interesting insight into the use of spectacle to cover up the darker side of industrialization. A little wordy and lacks foot notes which is frustrating for a history student but a good read none the less.
matt  Sandler
thoroughly good, lightning fast read, and an ample perspective couldn't recommend a better story of 'the great barbecue.'
Strong work. No relation to Michelle, right? X O X O.
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