Founding Finance: How Debt, Speculation, Foreclosures, Protests, and Crackdowns Made Us a Nation (Discovering America)
University of Texas Press, 2012
284 pp., $20.00
By weaving references to the Tea Party and Occupy movements throughout Founding Finance, Hogeland has given his narrative both an up-to-the-moment relevance and a limited shelf life. But Hogeland wants to make his case now, and he gleefully breaks many of the rules of formal history to do it. No university ID-carrying historian would include a chapter taking on the leading figures in the field smack in the middle of the narrative (that's usually done oh-so-subtly in a bibliographic essay at the end), or link his story so insistently to current events.
Hogeland must have been tempted to conclude the book by commenting on the recent debate over income inequality and the question (already front and center in the 2012 election when the book went to print) whether the wealthy should pay more in taxes. Happily, he doesn't do any of this. He points out how both the Left and the Right have distorted the history of America's founding to their own purposes, then leaves us to draw our own conclusions about the present.
David Skeel is a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the author, most recently, of The New Financial Deal: Understanding the Dodd-Frank Act and Its (Unintended) Consequences (Wiley, 2011).
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