Folsom shows that the "Robber Baron" school of historians of American business enterprise was partly right and partly wrong but was unable to distinguish which was which. He points out that during the nineteenth and the early twentieth century (and by unmistakable implication, in the late twentieth century as well) there were two kinds of business developers, whom he describes as "political entrepreneurs" and "market entrepreneurs." The former were in fact comparable to medieval robber barons, for they sought and obtained wealth through the coercive power of the state, which is to say that they were subsidized by government and were sometimes granted monopoly status by government. Invariable, their products or services were inferior to and more expensive than the goods and services provided by market entrepreneurs, who sought and obtained wealth by producing more and better for less cost to the consumer. The market entrepreneurs, however, have been repeatedly --one is tempted to say systematically ignored by historians.
Folsom's work is balanced, judicious history, addressed to the past (and is unmarred by the shrill accusatory tone that characterizes the writings of anti-business historians), it has a powerful relevance to current political discourse.