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Gangs of America

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Gangs of America

The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy


15 min read
10 take-aways
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What's inside?

The surprisingly complex history of corporate power is ancient, dark and far more intriguing than you might imagine.

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


This interesting book traces the history and development of corporations from the time of Queen Elizabeth I to the present day. Much of the book focuses on little-known episodes in the corporate chronicle - the cruel Jamestown settlement in Virginia, for example, or the British East India Company’s depredations in India. About midway through, the book shifts from such tales to a close examination of Supreme Court justices who tilted the playing field in favor of corporate power. Breezily written and accessible, this book puts a lengthy and complicated history easily within reach of ordinary readers. Its bias is clear - the subtitle leaves no doubt that author Ted Nace is a foe of corporate power - and the closer to the present the story comes, the more accusatory the author’s conclusions may seem. Nonetheless, finds this is a worthwhile read for those who seek background information on the dark side of the American corporate success story.


The Author’s Revelation

Ted Nace founded a little company called Peachpit Press to publish his how-to books. His company grew and prospered, and the author, who was also CEO, believes he became more and more detached from daily reality. At one point, he was shocked to find that the people in his office were mostly white, while the people engaged in the physical work of producing and shipping his company’s books were not. The realization unsettled him. Almost equally unsettling was his decision to sell his little corporation to a big, multi-national corporation. But he did. On his last day, he put a rose on each employee’s desk and left.

But in September 2000, he read a BusinessWeek article about people’s attitudes toward corporations. Clearly, people didn’t trust them. Nace decided to find out how, in a democracy, these distrusted corporations had amassed so much power. What he found scared him, because of their history and because they used the U.S. Supreme Court. Consider:

  • Most lawyers and reference works say that the Supreme Court decision, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad defined corporations as legal persons. But the Supreme Court did...

About the Author

Ted Nace once served as staff director of the Dakota Resource Council, organizing farmers and ranchers against rural coal strip mines and power plants. Nace became a freelance writer for PC World, Macworld and Publish. In 1985, he founded Peachpit Press to self-publish how-to books. He sold the company in 1996 to the Pearson conglomerate and returned to political activism and writing.

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