The caricature of the greedy businessperson is commonplace in popular culture today—from Hollywood to America’s college campuses.

Yet, are America’s most successful entrepreneurs really greedy and evil? Are leaders like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet enriching themselves at the expense of everyone else? Hardly.

These individuals have invested a great deal of their own time, effort, and ingenuity to create products and services of incredible value that have allowed millions of consumers to lead more productive and comfortable lives. Just think about how quickly and cost-effectively Amazon delivers that must-have handbag or video game to your door.

Despite this reality, progressives often cite prominent historical business figures to support their argument that the business leaders of today and the future are destined to cause great harm to society.

Fear not! Young America’s Foundation has published The Myth of the Robber Barons, a clear, concise, and masterful book that refutes this very claim and provides an inspirational narrative of the most successful entrepreneurs in American history.

Written by Dr. Burt Folsom, YAF’s longest-serving faculty member and a distinguished fellow at Hillsdale College, the newly-published eighth edition of this book is available for any student, educator, or other person interested in learning the true story of entrepreneurship and business in America.

To request your own complimentary copy of The Myth of the Robber Barons, complete a brief order form found here.

First published by YAF in 1987, this book tells the stories of heroic entrepreneurs who built America and changed the world: Cornelius Vanderbilt, the namesake of Vanderbilt University who transformed the steamship industry; John D. Rockefeller, the son of struggling parents who founded Standard Oil and provided an affordable source of energy for many millions of people; Andrew Mellon, an oil and aluminum entrepreneur who persuaded Congress to cut taxes and allow Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money; and others.

As Steve Moore, a key economic advisor to President Donald J. Trump wrote about The Myth of the Robber Barons:

My enduring takeaway for the book is this: it takes near super-human vision, endurance, bravado, and guts to pioneer a whole new industry. These are capitalists in the finest sense of the word—and they are byproducts of a free enterprise system that lets all develop their talents. It is a parochial pride I take that so many of the people who guided the world into the wealth-enhancing industrial and electronic revolution were Americans, and undoubtedly that is because of a culture of self-reliance, of rewarding exceptionalism, and allowing, as the old saying goes, for the business of America to be business.

The Myth of the Robber Barons has already reached the hands of tens of thousands of students across America. With this eighth edition, YAF looks forward to inspiring many more with the ideas of entrepreneurship and free enterprise.

Young America’s Foundation is grateful to Rick and Jane Schwartz, member of YAF’s Reagan Ranch Board of Governors, for their generosity in supporting this important project.


Raj Kannappan is the director of Young America’s Foundation’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise.

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