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James J. Hill: Empire Builder of the Northwest (Oklahoma Western Biographies) Hardcover – February, 1996

4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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About the Author

Michael P. Malone was president of Montana State University, Bozeman.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oklahoma Western Biographies (Book 12)
  • Hardcover: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Univ of Oklahoma Pr (February 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806127937
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806127934
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,159,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jean-Francois Virey on July 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
«The wealth of the country, its capital, its credit, must be saved from the predatory poor as well as the predatory rich, but above all from the predatory politician» - James J. Hill.
In her 1962 lecture, «America's Persecuted Minority : Big Business», Ayn Rand distinguished two types of entrepreneurs, whom Burton Folsom Jr. was later to label «economic» and «political»: «self-made men who earned their fortunes by personal ability, by free trade on a free market» and «men with political pull, who made fortunes by means of special privileges granted to them by the government.» And according to her, James Jerome Hill was an arch-representative of the former group, because he built his transcontinental railroad, the Great Northern, «without any federal help whatever.»
Michael P. Malone's admiration for Hill, on the other hand, is much more moderate (and for those who think such moderation unjust, he is kind enough to direct us to Albro Martin's «highly laudatory» two-volume biography of Hill, *James J. Hill and the Opening of the Northwest*)
For instance, he puts the phrase «self-made man» in quotation marks when applying it to Hill, for, he says, Hill's fortune «sprout... from the rich seedbed of federal subsidy»: by completing his first large scale project in time (the Manitoba railroad), Hill managed to reap the «seventh largest of the original seventy-five railroad grants», located mostly in the fertile Red River valley. Therefore, Malone says, we should forget the «hoariest, and most mischievous, of all the many legends surrounding Hill»- the one perpetrated by Ayn Rand and, after her, Burton Folsom Jr.- which «rhapsodizes about how he built a great transcontinental line without the benefit of a federal land grant.
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Format: Hardcover
Malone's book is a good introduction for people interested in the early history of the Northwest, the Great Northern Railway, and the man who greatly influenced both. While not as detailed as Martin's 1976 bio, Martin's is at least twice as long and too tedious for many readers.

Both Martin and Malone had access to the James J. Hill papers, a collection of almost every business paper Hill ever handled that is located in the Hill Reference Library in St. Paul, MN. Except for Pyle, previous Hill biographers and railroad historians did not see those papers, such much of what they say is more rumor than fact. Malone (and Martin) set the stories straight.

Contrary to Amazon's claim, this book is not out of print. It was just published over a year ago and can be found in many stores. Amazon must have miskeyed the entry.
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Format: Paperback
Definitely worth the read. I knew nothing about James J Hill even though I am born and raised in MN. Had no clue he had such and influence on the nation. I was surprised that it stayed as interesting as it did and there were only a few places where it got a little slow. Especially enjoyed the story because he started from nothing.
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Format: Paperback
Right up front Malone admits this is neither an authoritative nor exhaustive biography of Jim Hill and he keeps his promise. But as a pretty quick (280 page) read of Hill it is a solid book if slightly antiseptic and repetitive at times. It is particularly interesting if you want to know more about the history of the Great Northern Railway.
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Format: Paperback
Perhaps the author should have written a history of the Northwest, and northern railroads. I found very little of the persona of James J. Hill in this. It is a very historical narritive, not very biographic.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A lovely and thorough treatise oh how the barons of old devoted their energies to build the infra structure of this nation
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