Land of Promise:
An Economic History
of the United States
By Michael Lind
Harper, 592 pages
There are few stories in economic history more astonishing than the rise of the American economy. Four hundred years ago, what is now the United States was a wilderness inhabited by a few million natives living at a neolithic level of technology. Today it is the mightiest engine of wealth creation the world has ever seen. Its GDP is more than twice as large as the next largest economy (which has four times the population). Its people—from the top to the bottom of the socioeconomic scale—live at a level of prosperity undreamed of in any earlier time.
The tale has been a staple for American historians for a century. Now Michael Lind has tried his hand at the subject with Land of Promise. Lind is the author of several books, perhaps most notably The Next American Nation, published in 1995. He was a staff writer for Harper’s and the New Yorker and in 1995 cofounded the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C. He is far more a political scientist than a historian. And it shows.
About the Author
John Steele Gordon writes frequently for COMMENTARY. His own economic history of the United States, An Empire of Wealth, was published in 2004.