Americana Book Summary - Americana Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Americana summary

Bhu Srinivasan

A 400-Year History of American Capitalism

4.3 (75 ratings)
37 mins

Brief summary

Americana by Bhu Srinivasan is a comprehensive history of the United States through the lens of business and commerce. It explores the economic roots of American culture and its impact on the world.

Table of Contents

    Summary of 11 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 11

    From the voyage of the Mayflower to the Revolutionary War, early America was already tied to capitalism.

    The story of the Mayflower and the settling of the pilgrims in New England in 1620 is well known. But a key question is often overlooked: how was the trip financed? The answer shows how close the connection between America and capitalism was right from the beginning, and explains the settlers’ fight for their freedom later on.

    The voyage was financed by a group of investors in England via a company called the Virginia Company of London. Numerous individuals put in small amounts, limiting their financial risk. They stood to gain hugely, but only in the relatively unlikely scenario that the voyage was a great success. It was an early form of what we now call venture capital funding.

    As things turned out, the New World did indeed provide plenty of financial opportunities for traders back in England. A particular early success was beaver skin, sold as a luxury product in Europe. The colonists obtained it via trade with Native Americans, who were skilled at hunting beaver and preparing the pelts. Later, tobacco turned into a huge trade, especially on the farmlands of Virginia and Maryland. This time, the hard work was done by slaves, the first of whom had arrived in Virginia a year before the Mayflower.

    The tobacco trade grew to astonishing proportions, accounting for 80 percent of colonial exports to England in 1700. But America’s relationship with Great Britain, which it was still part of, began to seem one-sided. One issue rose to the forefront: taxation without representation. In 1765, facing war debts, England had begun to tax American colonies via the Stamp Act, meaning that obtaining any official document was subject to an extra fee. Yet the colonies were not represented in the English parliament. Who, then, represented their rights?

    American negotiators including Daniel Dulany and Benjamin Franklin succeeded in getting the Stamp Act repealed, but more problems were inevitable. In protest at yet more British taxes, some Bostonians held a ship called the Dartmouth captive at port in 1773, tipping its cargo – 45 tons of tea – into the harbor. The Revolutionary War began not long after.

    American independence may have been about securing freedom, but it was also about money. The American colonies and their inhabitants were no longer satisfied with their original purpose of providing a profit for the Englishmen across the ocean.

    Want more?
    Read or listen to the key ideas
    from 7,000+ titles

    Key ideas in Americana

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Americana about?

    Americana (2017) traces the history of the USA from one key perspective: capitalism. Bhu Srinivasan shows how the development of the country has been closely bound up with the development of capitalism, from the New England colonies’ earliest days to the most recent innovations of Silicon Valley or Wall Street.

    Named by The Economist as one of the best books of 2017

    Americana Review

    Americana (2017) offers a fascinating exploration of the history and impact of American business on society. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides insightful stories about the rise of iconic American companies, giving a behind-the-scenes look at their successes and challenges.
    • With its wide-ranging research and sharp analysis of economic trends, the book offers a deeper understanding of America's economic landscape.
    • Through its engaging storytelling and thought-provoking anecdotes, the book keeps the reader captivated and ensures that it is anything but boring.

    Who should read Americana?

    • American history enthusiasts
    • People interested in the economy past and present
    • Fans – or enemies – of capitalism

    About the Author

    Bhu Srinivasan is a media entrepreneur who came to the USA from India at the age of eight, traveling widely around the country with his family. Early in his career, he founded a news aggregation startup, and went on to work in gaming, publishing, and data. He now lives in Connecticut with his wife and children. Americana is his first book.

    Categories with Americana

    Book summaries like Americana

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    Americana FAQs 

    What is the main message of Americana?

    The main message of Americana is that understanding the history of innovation in America helps us build a better future.

    How long does it take to read Americana?

    The estimated reading time for Americana is several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Americana a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Americana is a captivating read that provides valuable insights into the history of American innovation.

    Who is the author of Americana?

    The author of Americana is Bhu Srinivasan.

    What to read after Americana?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Americana, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas
    • PostCapitalism by Paul Mason
    • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
    • The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham and comments by Jason Zweig
    • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
    • The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
    • Practical Optimism by Sue Varma
    • Milton Friedman by Jennifer Burns
    • Free Speech by Jacob Mchangama
    • The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff