Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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28 Responses

  1. I mostly agree with you on this – seriously, I watched a chunk of two of these shows the other night (it was late, nothing else on, etc.); the Rockefeller episode in particular reminded me of nothing so much as my least-favorite Ayn Rand passages. But I will say that the Carnegie episode does have a scene that portrays a massacre of protesting workers as exactly that: a massacre.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    My only complaint is this:

    “Dial it back around 100 years, to the time when every president had a big bushy beard…”

    There were remarkably few presidents with beards and of those, the last one was Benjamin Harrison who left office in 1901. Supposedly Harry Truman rocked a goatee while on vacation but I can’t find a picture.Report

  3. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Nope. I am one of those annoying people who has not watched the history channel for a long time because it is not real history.

    There best stuff was from the mid to late 90s and they have largely been downhill since trying to be more like reality TV/pop sociology with a little history thrown in.

    Too much military history as well. I think of the channel as being for people who think they are history buffs but not really interested in going beyond the surface on many things.

    /Mini-history nerd rantReport

  4. Avatar NewDealer says:

    But I did enjoy your article.Report

  5. Avatar Christopher Carr says:

    I haven’t watched it, but go ahead and spoil it for me anyways.

    Grey aliens were behind the Johnstown Flood, right?Report

  6. Avatar MikeSchilling says:

    They didn’t build that.Report

  7. Avatar MikeSchilling says:

    And in the first Golden Age, a banker bailed out the Federal Government. In all subsequent ones, it was the other way around.Report

  8. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    I saw the Rockefeller episode too, and though I assume there was a lot of BS (natch) in there, ultimately I found the story pretty inspiring. It seems to me that from a public perspective, all that was missing was sufficient taxation on the mature industry’s profits and worker safeguards. There’s nothing to regard as bad in the actual creation of the hyperprofitable industry he developed. t let a lot of people have access to cheap energy where they had to live in the dark before.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

      …Of course, the episode really didn’t follow the story very far into JDR’s business practices as the financial titan far removed from the actual building of Standard Oil.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

      …Your point about workers not getting credit is a good one, though in the story of the industry’s development, probably it’s always going to be just assumed away, given that low-skill labor was going to be readily available for any employer in those days (and these). The guy I thought got short shrift, both in this retelling, and probably in the actual events in terms of the actual compensation he got for his innovation, was the guy who came up with kerosene in the context of the program. (I have no idea if that had any relation to the actual development of kerosene in actual petro-industrial history.)Report

  9. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Because there was nothing special about the people who did the actual labor. The US and Europe didn’t modernize because the rank-and-file workers underwent a spontaneous increase in awesomeness. Modernization happened because engineers invented new technologies and entrepreneurs built companies to employ those technologies productively.Report

    • Avatar LWA (Lib With Attitude) in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      There wasn’t really anything special about the entreprenuers either.

      For example, we often hear about heroic entrprenuers who “built” a mining business out on the frontier.
      But of course the role that the taxpayers and military had in evicting the previous landholders such as the Sioux or Apache is overlooked; the role of the government in maintaining order and enforcing contracts and supplying a steady stream of workers is overlooked.

      So really, the only skill they possess is the ability to wine, dine, fellate and flatter various politicians into transferring money from the public treasury into their pocket.Report

  10. Avatar Lyle says:

    I watched the Rockefeller episode and it ignored the South Improvement Company and the collusion with the railroads in favor of making it a conflict. Further it did not mention that independents first built the Tidewater pipeline which was built to break the Standard Oil monopoly, making it appear that pipelines were the idea uniquely of Standard Oil. In general taking the book Titan as a guideline the show was less than faithful to the book. On Vanderbilt it also ignored the whole Erie (Daniel Drew,Jim Fisk, Jay Gould) episode. It also ignored the Pa railroad as a competitor to the NYC almost from the day both reached Chicago. So all in all to make conflict they did the usual and whitewashed and then repainted the parts they wanted of history.Report

  11. Avatar wardsmith says:

    TLDR; But I’m guessing the thrust of this article was “You [they] didn’t build that”.Report