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Book Cover
Author Levy, Jonathan, 1978-

Title Freaks of fortune : the emerging world of capitalism and risk in America / Jonathan Levy
Published Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2012
Online access available from:
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Description 1 online resource (414 pages)
Contents The assumption of risk -- The perils of the seas -- The actuarial science of freedom -- The failure of the freedman's bank -- Betting the farm -- Fraternity in the age of capital -- Trading the future -- The trust question
Summary "Focusing on the hopes and anxieties of ordinary people, Jonathan Levy shows how risk developed through the extraordinary growth of new financial institutions--insurance corporations, savings banks, mortgage-backed securities markets, commodities futures markets, and securities markets--while posing inescapable moral questions. For at the heart of risk's rise was a new vision of freedom. To be a free individual, whether an emancipated slave, a plains farmer, or a Wall Street financier, was to take, assume, and manage one's own personal risk. Yet this often meant offloading that same risk onto a series of new financial institutions, which together have only recently acquired the name "financial services industry." Levy traces the fate of a new vision of personal freedom, as it unfolded in the new economic reality created by the American financial system. Amid the nineteenth-century's waning faith in God's providence, Americans increasingly confronted unanticipated challenges to their independence and security in the boom and bust chance-world of capitalism. Freaks of Fortune is one of the first books to excavate the historical origins of our own financialized times and risk-defined lives."--Publisher's website
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index
Notes Print version record
Subject Capitalism -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
Risk -- Sociological aspects -- History -- 19th century.
Risk-taking (Psychology) -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
United States -- Economic conditions -- 19th century.
United States -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
Genre/Form History.
Form Electronic book
LC no. 2012014805
ISBN 0674067207 (electronic bk.)
9780674067202 (electronic bk.)