Ages of American Capitalism: A History of the United States (book talk)

Nov 3, 2021, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
Arthur Lewis Auditorium, Robertson Hall
Open to the public
Event Description

Registration required

This in-person talk is open to the public. Vaccination is required for in-person attendance. Princeton University requires everyone to wear face coverings while indoors. Pre-registration is required and please plan to arrive 10 minutes early to check-in with the QR code. Enter through the main doors of Robertson Hall.

 Zoom Registration is required. -->

Today, in the midst of a pandemic and severe political discord, the nature of capitalism in United States is at a crossroads. Since the market crash and Great Recession of 2008, historian Jonathan Levy has been teaching a course to help students understand everything that happened to arrive at that disaster and the current state of the economy. In in doing so he discovered something more fundamental about American history. In a new and ambitious single-volume history of the United States, he reveals how, from the beginning of U.S. history to the present, capitalism in America has evolved through four distinct ages and how the country’s economic evolution is inseparable from the nature of American life itself.

Jonathan Levy's new book, Ages of American Capitalism: A History of the United States (Random House, 2021), is a history of American economic life from the British colonial settlement through the Great Recession of the twenty-first century.  Levy is a historian of economic life and of the United States with a particular interest in the relationship between business history, political economy, legal history, and the history of ideas and culture. He is a member of the Department of History at the University of Chicago and affiliated with the John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought. He is also the current Faculty Director of the Law, Letters, and Society program. Much of Levy's recent research has sought to place investment at the center of economic history and theory, and, relatedly, to contribute towards the creation of a “Keynesian” paradigm in economic history. Professor Levy has three projects underway. The first is a book, The Real Economy, which collects a number of published and unpublished essays that he has produced over the past years on economic theory and history, with a focus on capital, corporations, and profit. Another book, The Fetish of Liquidity, is a revised version of a series of lectures that he gave at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in 2017 on global economic history since the Great Depression. The final project is a climate history of the city of Houston in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, based on a series of essays written in 2019 for the Visualizing Climate and Loss Project at Harvard’s Center for History and Economics. Levy's first book, Freaks of Fortune: The Emerging World of Capitalism and Risk in America (Harvard, 2012), won the Organization of American Historians' Frederick Jackson Turner Award, Ellis W. Hawley Prize, and Avery O. Craven Award and the American Society for Legal History's William Nelson Cromwell Book Prize.

The Economic History Workshop (EHW) is a monthly seminar series for Princeton students and faculty interested in the study of economic history. Co-sponsored by the Center for Collaborative History and the Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy & Finance, the workshop provides a forum for scholars to present their findings and receive feedback on their research in a wide array of subfields, such as financial, business, labor, legal, intellectual, technological, and social history. Open to faculty, scholars, and students of Princeton University, Rutgers University, and the Institute for Advanced Study.

  • Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy & Finance (JRCPPF)
  • Griswold Center for Economic Policy Studies (GCEPS)
  • Economic History Workshop (EHW)