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The Great Persuader: The Biography of Collis P. Huntington Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 444 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Colorado (January 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870814761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870814761
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #899,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"David Lavender's biography probably will remain the standard account of Collis Potter Huntington for some decades to come."
Montana Magazine


". . . lavish and fascinating detail, emphasizing in particular the complex, often illegal, financial and political wirepulling that generally won the day for Huntington."
Kirkus

About the Author

David Lavender, who grew up in Colorado, has long been one of the West’s leading historians. He was selected by the Huntingdon family to write this biography of their ancestor. His previous books include such classics as Bent’s Fort, The Santa Fe Trail, The Southwest, and his novel Red Mountain.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Craig Garver on October 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Lavender is an excellent writer and serious history scholar. This is an outstanding book, and well deserves a space on the book shelf of any serious student of the Central Pacific or Southern Pacific. I've had my copy for years, and I can assure you it is well dog-eared and tatered from heavy and frequent reference. Lavender's sources are thorough (although he did not access the huge archive of Huntington papers at Syracuse University) and his remarks in general correct and precisely on target. Of the three great Huntington biographies, (the others are Cerinda Evan's Collis Potter Huntington and Oscar Lewis' The Big Four), this is by far the best, though I highly recommend Evan's work as well. This is a must-have book on this subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. Fitzgerald on May 23, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Talk about most unlikely to succeed! Collis Huntington was born in Harwinton, Connecticut in 1821 and became an itinerant peddler, primarily throughout the South. But he saved sufficient capital to become a successful hardware merchant in Oneonta, New York. When gold was discovered in California he headed west, not to search for gold, but to sell mining supplies to those that did. After an inauspicious start, he was to become a very successful, well connected business man. In 1861 he would form a partnership with Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins and Leland Stanford, former Governor of California, to begin construction of the western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Founding the Central Pacific Railroad, over the next seven years he would become the primary mover and shaker in the endeavor. Assuming the eastern responsibilities of the venture he led CPRR's financing, legal, lobbying and major competitive efforts in New York City and Washington, DC against their main rival, the Union Pacific Railroad. Starting in Sacramento, California while the UP started in Omaha, Nebraska, these two railroading giants would race each other across the continent to see who would control the most track for what was the largest government financed, internal improvement of its time. At stake was nothing more than the ultimate settlement of the interior United States, including the development of new towns, subjugation of the Native American Plains tribes, the control of vast amounts of natural resources and yes, massive wealth accumulation. The CPRR would win its race with the Union Pacific, but only by the skin of its teeth. The partners would go on to control railroading in the western United States!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lavender presented people. The traditional "robber baron" view of James J. Hill, the Central Pacific Four, etc. overlooks human characteristics and focuses on a specific politico-economic interpretation of events while overlooking that the participants are in fact people. It is interesting to note that C. P. Huntington is not the same "devil" in Virginia and West Virginia that he is in California. Perhaps "We will build great ships at a profit if we must" is just as much reflective of the Huntington persona as all the invective heaped upon him in the traditional California view. Teachers of California history should consider what Lavender says before parroting what their professors in the state university system had to say. I emphasize only A"consider it".
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Auburn C. Duesenberg IV on March 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
A fascinating look at one the great rail road builders. A man who was fundamental to building two transcontinental railroads, a major eastern railroad and the nation's premier shipyard. The book describes his achievements, failures, attributes and flaws. It also gives a vivid view of life in gold rush California and the later trials in building the Central Pacific through the Rockies. Although commissioned by the Huntington family, it seems to provide a balanced view of the man. His sometime questionable dealings are well presented, and explained within the context of a different era. If the book has a flaw, it is the very detailed explanations of the stock and bond manipulations. But overall, it is the story of one of the true builders of the 19th century.
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