An entertaining and illuminating celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit as an engine of America's socioeconomic growth. In his consistently upbeat appreciation. Gunderson (Business & Economics/Trinity College) takes the concept of entrepreneurship well beyond the domain of business. By the author's persuasive reckoning, entrepreneurs add values as well as wealth to the societies that nourish them. Thus, the improbable likes of Justice Brandeis and FDR rank as high as captains of industry among those he identifies as adaptive contributors. Gunderson docs not, however, go out of his way to pursue atypical examples. For the most part, in fact, he focuses on the commercially enterprising--Carnegie, Disney, Ford, McCormick, Pickens, Rockefeller, Sloan, Ward, et al. Nor does he dwell on individual accomplishments, which, as he documents, successor generations invariably surpass. What the fast-paced narrative may lack in depth, though, is more than offset by breadth and range. The author's panoramic coverage runs from the pre-Revolutionary era through the present day. Among other delights, the guided tour is notable for shrewd observations that put prominent figures, lesser lights, and better mousetraps in the context of their times--e.g., characterizing the decision of colonial merchant Thomas Hancock to concentrate on small hinterland markets as "a Wal-Mart strategy." Against the grain, Gunderson offers a convincing apologia for the 19th century's so-called robber barons and makes a good case for the nation's prospects. Intriguing and insightful perspectives on a largely overlooked aspect of US history.