About Burt Folsom

Free market ideas are in short supply.  I enjoy studying free markets and how they work.

I am a professor of history at Hillsdale College, a fine institution that takes no federal funds and turns out about 300 graduates each year. I am also a columnist and the historian-in-residence at the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, New York.

I have written several books.  One of the most popular ones is The Myth of the Robber Barons (six editions, Young America’s Foundation), in which I discuss the differences between political entrepreneurs and market entrepreneurs.  I give examples from history of various businessmen (Rockefeller, Schwab, Vanderbilt, for example) and how their actions affected their contemporaries and the history of the United States.  I explore the positive effects of entrepreneurs and limited government on the rise of the U.S. in the late 1800s.

In New Deal or Raw Deal: How FDR’s Economic Legacy Has Damaged America (Simon & Schuster, 2008), I examine the disastrous effects of massive federal spending under Franklin Roosevelt during the New Deal years of the 1930s.  Did FDR’s New Deal help the American economy?  New Deal or Raw Deal answers that question.

The sequel to my work on the New Deal is my latest book, co-authored with my wife, Anita Folsom:   FDR Goes to War:  How Expanded Executive Power, Spiraling National Debt, and Restricted Civil Liberties Shaped Wartime America (Simon & Schuster, 2011). Anita and I cover the period from the 1930s through the end of the war, and the post-war recovery.  We discuss FDR’s foreign policy:  Did he provoke war with Japan?  We show how Roosevelt’s presidency became “imperial” during the wartime emergency, as he enlarged his power through executive orders, and the federal government began to regulate all areas of American society.  And we show how Americans met the challenges of World War II, to invent and build the weapons of war to give our fighting men and women what was needed.  The U.S. and its Allies developed penicillin, landing craft, sophisticated radar systems, dehydrated foods, DDT, and hundreds of other innovations to win the war.

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