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The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J. P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy Hardcover – September 15, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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 Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; 1st edition (October 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805075992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805075991
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles R. Morris is a lawyer and former banker. He has written fourteen books, and is a regular contributor to Politico, Newsweek, Reuters, and many other publications.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Shawn S. Sullivan on July 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Charles Morris's "The Tycoons" is a good summation of the Industrial Revolution but is almost certainly poorly sub-titled with "How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould and J.P. Morgan Invented the Supereconomy". The New York Times did a review on October 2, 2005 and Todd Buchholtz hit the nail on the head writing "The Tycoons is not a path-breaking work of scholarship, testing new hypotheses against freshly uncovered facts." In fact a good part of Morris's book has nothing to do with these four very important men of commerce influenced anything. Rather he does show what the principal drivers behind such an economic explosion were. His writings on the four are based upon good, but not really extensive, research. For instance, much of his writing on Morgan is attributable to the best seller by Ron Chernow, The House of Morgan. While this was certainly a terrific book, to have it as THE principal souce or one of your main topics, is to short change any serious effort at research.

He manages to get a plug on the book by I.W. Brands of the University of Texas, one of our most well respected historians on the period. Perhaps Professor Brands saw something I did not. That said, it is a quick read and a rather fun one. A bit more organization would have gone a long way.
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66 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Starz928 on December 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Ever wonder when and how America modernized, when we stopped making our own soap at home and started buying it in the department stores, or when the department stores started? More importantly, do you know when America went from the land of the artisan to mass production and fulfillment of the market needs of the many, with less regard for quality than for quantity? Even if you do not need those questions answered, you ought to read this gem of a book to understand how American genius in management and technology turned our country from a broken victim of the Civil War to the world's most productive and rich nation in less than 35 years. It will make you wonder about the cycle we are currently in and whether those who make dire predictions about our economy in view of a robust China have thought through the changes that count. Morris does not lead you in that direction, but your inquiring mind will be thinking of the lessons to be learned from this highly readable and thoughtful mix of history, commerce and economics.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Lehigh History Student VINE VOICE on December 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book for looking at the economic history of the United States. It covers mostly the four mentioned in the title but what was really fantastic and what deserves that extra star is that it covers the economic developments on the side. It looks at how our economy outpace Europe and the shift to make America that extra superpower. WE also have a look at how our ability to move west gave us an added advantage and that we did not have to resort to colonies. While we exported much we still made tremendous gains in internal improvements. He also grasp how the development of the coronation as an institution led to the rise of clerical and accounting positions creating hundreds of service jobs. This book is incredibly well written and really holds your interest. It offered the best explanation of Gould's attempt to corner the gold market I have ever read. It is very well researched and makes references to the top economic historians out there. A must read for anyone who wants to understand how the United States developed economically
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Paul Franciosa on April 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover

* - if you have to chose between torture and reading this book, then you might want to consider reading the book - although it depends on just how severe the torture would be.

** - if you've lost your job and have quite a bit of free time on your hands, and don't have anything else better to do, then you might want to consider reading this book; don't expect to learn much or really be entertained. It will however, help you pass the time until your death.

*** - meh...I'm indifferent. Reading this book will not alter your life in any significant way, yet it is not so horrendously dreadful that your taking the time to read it will be a complete waste of time.

**** - Good book to great book zone here. You should probably read this book if you have some spare time. This book could be interesting, entertaining, or informative.

***** - Outstanding book! Make time to read this book - you'll learn or be entertained or intrigued. The book might even be good enough to provide original or helpful insights into the world that we live in.


I purchased this book expecting to read four independent stories relating to each of Jay Gould, JP Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and JD Rockefeller. I was surprised to find that this was not what this book was about at all. Instead, The Tycoons nests the stories of each of these American capitalists within a detailed account of the rise of American industry. In one sense, this was a disappointment, in another a blessing.

Much of the discussion in the book is focused on the technological developments that facilitated American industrialism as well as the political and economic environment in which these four legendary capitalists built their empires.
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