Brands attended Stanford University where he earned a bachelor's degree in history; he then went on to earn a masters degree in Liberal Studies at Reed College, followed by another masters in Mathematics from Portland State. He then concluded to earn a doctorate in history from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to American Colossus, Brands has also written over a dozen other of which are: Traitor to His Class, The Money Men, Andrew Jackson, The Age of Gold, The First American, TR, The Strange Death of American Liberalism, What America Owes the World, and The Devil We Knew. He has also published dozens of articles and scores of reviews, and coauthored or edited other books such as The Selected Letters of Theodore Roosevelt and The Foreign Policies of Lyndon Johnson. Brands has a lot of knowledge in history telling by all the books that he has written and edited. Based on this information American Colossus is a book that promises to be a very detailed and in to depth about the Triumph of Capitalism.
American Colossus is a book focusing on 19th century economic and social conditions in the United Stated from 1865 to 1900 with Andrew Carnegie, John Pierpont Morgan, and John D. Rockefeller playing a major part in the triumph of capitalism. The main idea that Brands is trying to communicate to readers is "In accomplishing its revolution, capitalism threatened to eclipse American democracy." Throughout American Colossus, Brands makes extensive use of both primary sources and secondary works. Among the primary sources that Brands uses extensively are Andrew Carnegie clerked on the railroad, John D. Rockefeller focused on oil, and J.P. Morgan as a trader. Secondary works that Brands uses extensively include how the government became the sponsors rather than its opposition, underwriting railroad construction, raising tariff rates, creating a national currency, and allowing the likes of Morgan to troll for fortunes in the troubled waters of the war.