On the podcast this week is Daniel Amsterdam, author of Roaring Metropolis: Businessmen’s Campaign for a Civic Welfare State (Penn Press, 2016). He is...

On the podcast this week is Daniel Amsterdam, author of Roaring Metropolis: Businessmen’s Campaign for a Civic Welfare State (Penn Press, 2016). He is assistant professor in the School of History and Sociology at Georgia Institute of Technology. Many have claimed that we are living in a second Gilded Age, marked by the same extreme wealth and high levels of inequality as the early part of the previous century. Amsterdam takes us back to this time period to investigate how the Gilded Age addressed poverty and the role of the business community. Roaring Metropolis describes the rise of urban capitalists at the turn of the last century. Far from anti-government zealots, Amsterdam shows that business leaders pushed for extensive government spending on social programs. They advocated for public schooling, public health, the construction of libraries, museums, parks, and playgrounds. As Amsterdam demonstrates, public spending soared in American cities, especially Detroit, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, during the period due in part to businessmen’s political activism.

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