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Howard Wolk
Launchpad Republic
Launchpad Republic provides a concise but comprehensive overview of entrepreneurship in America, focusing on how the country's democracy, corporate and financial framework, and strong emphasis on consumer interests allows upstarts to challenge incumbents more sustainably than almost anywhere else in the world. This dynamism not only keeps the economy strong, but it also challenges the political and social status quo. The book provides an historical overview as well as a comparative perspective, while doing so with an engaging, narrative approach.
Making the case that spirited entrepreneurship has long given the U.S. its edge, Wolk and Landry trace the history of enterprising—and disruptive—innovators back to the early days of the Republic, with an eye toward the question of why the U.S. has so often outpaced the rest of the world when it comes to “unicorns,” private ventures that achieve a billion-dollar valuation. The authors argue that the circumstances of the nation’s founding and claiming independence, and the development of “cultural, legal, and political systems [that] give entrepreneurs the room to succeed and grow,” have seeded a start-up-minded culture that still drives the global economy. Launchpad Republic delves extensively into the history of entrepreneurship and how it and America itself have always powered each other,

This is history, told with an eye on the bottom line, as the authors offer engaging thumbnail portraits of the likes of Benjamin Franklin (who “set the paradigm of the self-made man in America”) and brisk, clear-eyed accounts of the circumstances and controversies of establishing in a fractious land a federal government, a banking system, and an economy that encourages growth. Each chapter explores how entrepreneurs have benefited from, been in conflict with, or helped to shape those systems, with competition between “upstarts and incumbents” and pushback from the government crucial recurring themes.

Case studies exploring inflection points like the Charles River Bridge case of 1837, or examining the increasing “federal supremacy” over interstate commerce, demonstrate the challenge the nation has always faced in balancing complex, sometimes conflicting rights. This focus on the relationship, over centuries, between the U.S. government and entrepreneurs casts intriguing new light on controversies facing contemporary businesses, with up-to-date considerations of tech companies and antitrust laws a highlight. Launchpad Republic will appeal to history buffs and the business set both, as it blends illuminating history with a celebration of the entrepreneurial spark in the national character.

Takeaway: This study of entrepreneurship in U.S. history argues the nation boasts an upstart spark.

Great for fans of: Larry Schweikart and Lynne Pierson Doti’s American Entrepreneur, John Berlau’s George Washington, Entrepreneur.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A