This richly annotated bibliography of novels, films, and plays could be read in conjunction with studying business. Arguing that these imaginative works offer insights not found in textbooks or case studies, Younkins explicates their power to represent as well as entertain. After a summary introduction, the author presents 25 brief, chronological chapters, each focusing on a separate work, beginning with William Dean Howells's The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885) and ending with Oliver Stone's film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010). In summarizing these works, Younkins emphasizes universal themes, such as amorality in Theodore Dreiser's The Financier, the American Dream in Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, individualism in Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion, and competition in David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross. After a brief conclusion that again summarizes the content, the book ends with appendixes that list additional business novels, plays, and films . . . [T]his volume serves as an ideal primer for an instructor who wishes to include literature in a business course. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; faculty; general readers.
— Choice Reviews
Exploring Capitalist Fiction, a new volume of literary analysis by Dr. Edward W. Younkins, offers perceptive, relevant, and engaging commentaries on 25 works of fiction which portray the business world and its relationship to all areas of human life. . .Younkins is to be commended for emphasizing the value of fiction as a teaching tool for both students of business and individuals immersed in the business world. . . .Exploring Capitalist Fiction is an excellent means to appreciate the richness and variety of fictional portrayals of business, especially since the Second Industrial Revolution of the late 19th century. The book offers a concise introduction to many works and endeavors to motivate readers to seek out and experience the original novels, plays, and films.
— The Rational Argumentator
Exploring Capitalist Fiction may not sound like a page-turner. But Edward W. Younkins, a professor of accountancy and director of graduate programs in the Department of Business at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, has produced a most appealing and useful text, one that can satisfy a variety of interests. ... Younkins gives the reader a good mix of works. There are novels, plays and movies, and in some cases such as "The Great Gatsby," novels that have been made into movies a number of times—1949, 1974, 2000, 2003—an indication, perhaps, of the story's enduring attraction. ... In sum, there is a lot to like and a lot of learn in Exploring Capitalist Fiction.
— El Paso Times
Younkins puts together a canon of economics-themed fiction here and does not stop with works that are just still popular today. ... Anyone who teaches business or economics will find in Younkins’s book an extremely helpful guide to expanding one’s teaching beyond the usual non-fiction standards to connect with students on a level that goes beyond mere concepts and into the illustrations of how humans truly interact with the economic systems around them. In other words, this book will help instructors use art to improve instruction while helping students consume popular culture more insightfully.
— Mises Review
Although his prior books establish Dr. Younkins as a scholarly and prolific philosopher of liberty, Exploring Capitalist Fiction focuses not on the philosophy of business but on the complex lives of fictional men who implement it. Its twenty-five plot summaries illustrate, unsurprisingly, that businessmen are neither more nor less moral or confused than the rest of us, from the crony-capitalist railroaders in Norris's The Octopus, Cahan's wealthy but unhappy David Levinsky, and Lewis's terrified conformist Babbitt to more heroic, less conflicted figures like Hawley's Cash McCall, Kesey's Stamper family, and King Vidor's Steve Dangos. Dr. Younkins occasionally offers a valuable philosophical or economic insight, but the book is principally a welcome, fascinating, even-handed study of business and capitalism in literature.
— John Egger, Towson University
Exploring Capitalist Fiction is one of those books I have needed for a long time, but just didn’t know it. In this volume, Younkins assembles a remarkable collection of insights about how business is portrayed in literature and film. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the book is Younkins’s ability to balance historical viewpoints with contemporary and whimsical perspectives with serious ones, across both film and print. And he does so while striking a balance between supportive and critical outlooks on business and capitalism that I would not have thought possible. This is an excellent book.
— Marshall Schminke, University of Central Florida
Perhaps no subject has been so much discussed in literature and film yet so under-analyzed and examined as business. This volume is a virtual pioneer in remedying this situation. Drawing from novels, plays, and films, and ranging over a variety of attitudes towards business, Younkins selects works of depth and importance for anyone interested in exploring the treatment of business in fiction and thereby coming to appreciate its cultural and moral significance. Especially refreshing is Younkins’s selection process which avoids the temptation to concentrate on contemporary works. Instead we see selections from a number of different eras with attention paid to lesser known works as well as some obvious favorites. I have little doubt that this book will become a standard reference work for those interested in the treatment of business through creative fiction.
— Douglas Den Uyl, Vice President of Educational Programs, Liberty Fund
I am a testament to the validity of the theme of this book, which is that fiction can be a powerful tool for business education. A novel, Atlas Shrugged, changed my life and was far more important to me in successfully leading a business than any nonfiction book or college course.
— John A. Allison, President and CEO, Cato Institute
Professor Younkins makes another contribution to the literature of freedom, this time by showing us what pro-capitalist fiction—and anti-capitalist, too—can teach us about business and its enemies.
— Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., Chairman and CEO, Ludwig von Mises Institute
Why do critics of laissez faire capitalism have all the good folk songs? All the good novels (well, most of them)? Ditto for poems, plays, stories. Why is virtually all of literature, music and art almost a wholly owned subsidiary of those who oppose economic freedom? Probably, because they work harder at it than we do.
It is all the more important, then, that those of us who treasure the free marketplace and private property rights get into this ‘industry’ as well.
Now along comes a very important contribution in this regard: Edward Younkins’s new book: Exploring Capitalist Fiction: Business Through Literature and Film. He unerringly explores, contemplates and analyzes twenty-five important books and movies that deal with business. I cannot possibly overestimate the importance of this initiative in promoting liberty and the free society.
I have been a fan of Ed’s for many years now. I greatly admire his previous works, and this one fully lives up to his previous contributions. I am delighted to recommend this book, highly, to all those with an interest in both literature and freedom.
A note to English majors: read this book! It will give you a perspective on literature you are unlikely, in the extreme, to have ever seen before. It will be a real thrill to see these books and movies not from the eyes of your typical leftish literature professor, but from the vantage point of someone who celebrates liberty.
— Walter Block, Loyola University, New Orleans
Most people today spend at least a third of their weekday lives in the business world. Some view that world as a second family. Younkins' superb summaries and analyses of twenty-five works of capitalist fiction create the feel of what it is like to work in the modern institution known as business. In all of these fictional cases there are many complex personal, ethical, and psychological interactions: government vs. business, employer vs. employee, supplier vs. client, and, of course, fellow entrepreneur/employee vs. fellow entrepreneur/employee. Ethical issues are the star. Indeed, the book could easily be used as a text in business ethics courses.
— Jerry Kirkpatrick, California State Polytechnic University
The struggle for liberty must consist of more than an intellectual appeal. As Ayn Rand demonstrated in her novels, the establishment of a free society will succeed only if people have an emotional investment in such an outcome. It is art that creates and supports the level of personal involvement required to motivate and sustain people in the face of unrelenting and unforgiving opposition. In his book Exploring Capitalist Fiction: Business Through Literature and Film, Edward Younkins recognizes the power of art as a force both for and against the ideals necessary for a world in which we can exist fully as human beings. Tapping into a wide range of source material, Younkins explores the role of fiction in sustaining or retarding the course the Founders set for our nation. Providing clear yet succinct summaries of a variety of works—including The Great Gatsby, Death of a Salesman, Atlas Shrugged, and the movie Wall Street— Younkins succeeds in explaining and analyzing these twenty-five diverse works in the context of his book's themes. Readers of Exploring Capitalist Fiction will enjoy these bite-sized introductions to unfamiliar works as well as explorations of fiction they have already enjoyed. With luck, Younkins's efforts here will spark more interest in expanding the arguments for freedom beyond dry academic journals to include art that moves us, involves us, and provides us emotional fuel in the face of the greatest task of our lives.
— Russell Madden, Author of the novel, Death is Easy
Ed Younkins’s newest book will be indispensable to anyone either teaching or studying the portrayal of business in American fiction, plays, and films over the past century and a quarter.
His admirably evenhanded summaries of twenty-five important works in this tradition, and his exhaustive lists of other titles not discussed at length, will be useful also to the general reader who simply wants to discover more about how commercial enterprise has been depicted in novels, plays, and movies over the past hundred years or so.
— Jeff Riggenbach, Author of In Praise of Decadence, and Why American History Is Not What They Say: An Introduction to Revisionism
Lawyer and statesman St. Thomas More argued that the study of literature provides greater moral understanding than does the study of law. Edward Younkins strengthens that argument through his perceptive and insightful examination of both pro- and anti-business fiction and film.
— Samuel Bostaph, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Dallas
This work includes essays on an amazingly wide range of American novels, plays, and films from the past two centuries, all containing business and economic themes and content. Younkins’s insightful reading of many of the major texts that explore issues of business and capitalism is a welcome addition to interdisciplinary studies. It can easily serve as a guideline for a course in either a College of Business or a College of Liberal Arts.
— Mimi R. Gladstein, University of Texas at El Paso
Once more Ed Younkins has come up with an insightful discussion of an important topic. Professor Younkins writes in a way that is intelligible to the general audience while retaining the rigor of thought expected of an academic. Exploring Capitalist Fiction is fun to read and will change the way you look at a film, read a book or watch a play.
— Gary Wolfram, Hillsdale College