From Publishers Weekly
During the 40 years following the end of the Civil War, American per capita production and consumption grew rapidly, the population soared and the U.S. economy surged past Great Britain's-a radical transformation that Morris (Money, Greed, and Risk) chronicles through the lives of four protagonists: steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, oil king John D. Rockefeller, stock market and railroad wizard Jay Gould and financier J.P. Morgan. More an economic argument than an exposition of history or biography, Morris' volume analyzes long-term historical trends and their influence on modern affairs. The result is a fascinating revisionist interpretation in which Gould and Rockefeller come off better than conventional wisdom suggests, and Carnegie and Morgan worse. Readers without a strong grounding in economics may be challenged by Morris' analysis, but those better versed will be intrigued by his original angle on the robber barons. Agent, Tim Seldes.
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Morris profiles the four big "robber barons" of post-Civil War America: Andrew Carnegie, steel magnate, characterized as annoying and cruel; John D. Rockefeller, the direct and understated visionary who founded Standard Oil; Jay Gould, perhaps the most vilified of them all, who made his fortune in railroads; and J. P. Morgan, who, groomed for the financial trade, became the world's banker. Although all four would probably have excelled in any era, it was the machine age, the move from an agricultural to a manufacturing society, and the concurrent rise of mass consumption, that created an environment for their megasuccess. Morris shows how the inventiveness and spirit of the American worker in the later 1800s led to a surge of growth that had the U.S. roaring past Great Britain to become the world's top producer. "Scientific Management" of factories created interchangeable parts and assembly lines, bringing branded foods and labor-saving home appliances to the people. Morris brings home how the rapid expansion produced a "supply shock" that overshadows any so-called paradigm shift that we may be experiencing today. David SiegfriedCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved