Boston Review: Debunking the Capitalist Cowboy

Ladies Home Journal,  1948

Ladies Home Journal, 1948

A new piece in the Boston Review on the mythology of the entrepreneur.

Capitalism, like the United States itself, has a mythology, and for five decades one of its central characters has been the nineteenth-century maverick cigarette entrepreneur, James B. Duke. Duke’s risk-taking investment in the newfangled machine-made cigarette, so the story goes, displaced the pricey, hand-rolled variety offered by his stodgy competitors. This, in turn, won Duke control of the national, and soon global, cigarette market. Repeated ad nauseam in business and history journals, high school and university curricula, popular magazines, and websites, the story has taught that disruptive innovation drives capitalist progress.

You can read the piece in full over at Boston Review!