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Robber Barons: The Lives and Careers of John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and Cornelius Vanderbilt

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*Includes pictures *Includes the business magnates' quotes about life and work *Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading *Includes a table of contents The Gilded Age and the dawn of the 20th century are often remembered as an era full of monopolies, trusts, and economic giants in heavy industries like oil and steel. Men like Andrew Carnegie built e *Includes pictures *Includes the business magnates' quotes about life and work *Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading *Includes a table of contents The Gilded Age and the dawn of the 20th century are often remembered as an era full of monopolies, trusts, and economic giants in heavy industries like oil and steel. Men like Andrew Carnegie built empires like Carnegie Steel, and financiers like J.P. Morgan merged and consolidated them. The era also made names like Astor, Cooke, and Vanderbilt instantly recognizable across the globe. Over time, the unfathomable wealth generated by the businesses made the individuals on top incredibly rich, and that in turn led to immense criticism and an infamous epithet used to rail against them: robber barons. Dozens of men were called “robber barons”, but few of them were as notorious as Cornelius Vanderbilt, who also happened to be one of the nation’s first business titans. Vanderbilt was a railroad and shipping magnate at a time that the industry was almost brand new, but he rode his success to become one of the richest and most powerful men in American history. When historians are asked to name the richest man in history, a name that often pops up is that of John D. Rockefeller, who co-founded Standard Oil and turned it into the first real trust in the United States. Rockefeller had been groomed ambitiously by a huckster father nicknamed “Devil Bill”, who was just as willing to cheat his son as an unsuspecting public, and John certainly chased his dreams of living long and large. Rockefeller forged his empire in the first few decades of his life and nearly worked himself to death by the time he was 50, which helped compel him to retire for the last several decades of his life. At one point, Rockefeller’s wealth was worth more than 1.5% of the entire country’s gross domestic product, and by adjusting for inflation, he is arguably the richest man in American history if not world history. When robber barons across America took the reins of vast industries, they needed financing, and many of them turned to the most famous banker of all: John Pierpont Morgan. It was J.P. Morgan who bankrolled the consolidation of behemoth corporations across various industries, including the merging of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company, which subsequently became General Electric, still known simply as GE across the world today. Similarly, he financed Federal Steel Company and consolidated various other steel businesses to help form the United States Steel Corporation. While critics complained about the outsized influence that these gigantic businesses had, Morgan’s massive wealth also gave him unprecedented power in the financial sector and the ability to deal with politicians. In fact, Morgan played an important part in the Panic of 1907 and the subsequent decision to create the Federal Reserve as a monetary oversight. Ironically, one of America’s most famous robber barons, Andrew Carnegie, epitomized the American Dream, migrating with his poor family to America in the mid-19th century and rising to the top of the business world in his adopted country. A prodigious writer in addition to his keen sense of business, Carnegie was one of the most outspoken champions of capitalism at a time when there was pushback among lower social classes who witnessed the great disparities in wealth; as he once put it, “Upon the sacredness of property civilization itself depends—the right of the laborer to his hundred dollars in the savings bank, and equally the legal right of the millionaire to his millions.


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*Includes pictures *Includes the business magnates' quotes about life and work *Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading *Includes a table of contents The Gilded Age and the dawn of the 20th century are often remembered as an era full of monopolies, trusts, and economic giants in heavy industries like oil and steel. Men like Andrew Carnegie built e *Includes pictures *Includes the business magnates' quotes about life and work *Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading *Includes a table of contents The Gilded Age and the dawn of the 20th century are often remembered as an era full of monopolies, trusts, and economic giants in heavy industries like oil and steel. Men like Andrew Carnegie built empires like Carnegie Steel, and financiers like J.P. Morgan merged and consolidated them. The era also made names like Astor, Cooke, and Vanderbilt instantly recognizable across the globe. Over time, the unfathomable wealth generated by the businesses made the individuals on top incredibly rich, and that in turn led to immense criticism and an infamous epithet used to rail against them: robber barons. Dozens of men were called “robber barons”, but few of them were as notorious as Cornelius Vanderbilt, who also happened to be one of the nation’s first business titans. Vanderbilt was a railroad and shipping magnate at a time that the industry was almost brand new, but he rode his success to become one of the richest and most powerful men in American history. When historians are asked to name the richest man in history, a name that often pops up is that of John D. Rockefeller, who co-founded Standard Oil and turned it into the first real trust in the United States. Rockefeller had been groomed ambitiously by a huckster father nicknamed “Devil Bill”, who was just as willing to cheat his son as an unsuspecting public, and John certainly chased his dreams of living long and large. Rockefeller forged his empire in the first few decades of his life and nearly worked himself to death by the time he was 50, which helped compel him to retire for the last several decades of his life. At one point, Rockefeller’s wealth was worth more than 1.5% of the entire country’s gross domestic product, and by adjusting for inflation, he is arguably the richest man in American history if not world history. When robber barons across America took the reins of vast industries, they needed financing, and many of them turned to the most famous banker of all: John Pierpont Morgan. It was J.P. Morgan who bankrolled the consolidation of behemoth corporations across various industries, including the merging of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company, which subsequently became General Electric, still known simply as GE across the world today. Similarly, he financed Federal Steel Company and consolidated various other steel businesses to help form the United States Steel Corporation. While critics complained about the outsized influence that these gigantic businesses had, Morgan’s massive wealth also gave him unprecedented power in the financial sector and the ability to deal with politicians. In fact, Morgan played an important part in the Panic of 1907 and the subsequent decision to create the Federal Reserve as a monetary oversight. Ironically, one of America’s most famous robber barons, Andrew Carnegie, epitomized the American Dream, migrating with his poor family to America in the mid-19th century and rising to the top of the business world in his adopted country. A prodigious writer in addition to his keen sense of business, Carnegie was one of the most outspoken champions of capitalism at a time when there was pushback among lower social classes who witnessed the great disparities in wealth; as he once put it, “Upon the sacredness of property civilization itself depends—the right of the laborer to his hundred dollars in the savings bank, and equally the legal right of the millionaire to his millions.

30 review for Robber Barons: The Lives and Careers of John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and Cornelius Vanderbilt

  1. 5 out of 5

    Aurora

    This is a well written overview of three of the men whose wealth and business acumen made American what it is today. It provides information on the early lives, business acquisitions and charitable work of all three. I enjoyed it because it provided me with enough information to make each of them more than just an name on the the side of a prominent building. In order to truly know any of the three, it would take considerable study and many scholarly volumes, but this book provides enough knowledg This is a well written overview of three of the men whose wealth and business acumen made American what it is today. It provides information on the early lives, business acquisitions and charitable work of all three. I enjoyed it because it provided me with enough information to make each of them more than just an name on the the side of a prominent building. In order to truly know any of the three, it would take considerable study and many scholarly volumes, but this book provides enough knowledge to begin to piece together the history of corporate America and it will take you hours, not days or weeks.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mark Little

    The facts presented seem to be accurate based on my past reading of the lives of the four covered in this book. However the writing leaves a lot to be desired. It feels disjointed in parts and there are countless instances where the author utilizes “it’s not clear/we can’t be clear/no one knows...” when describing some event in the life of these men. It’s a good primer on 4 titans of the Gilded Age, but there are many works available that give better, detailed accounts of their lives - without “ The facts presented seem to be accurate based on my past reading of the lives of the four covered in this book. However the writing leaves a lot to be desired. It feels disjointed in parts and there are countless instances where the author utilizes “it’s not clear/we can’t be clear/no one knows...” when describing some event in the life of these men. It’s a good primer on 4 titans of the Gilded Age, but there are many works available that give better, detailed accounts of their lives - without “we can’t be clear.”

  3. 5 out of 5

    Donadee's Corner

    I love reading the history of all kinds (people, places, and things) well now I have found another outlet to get my fill! It is so nice to quickly read about times and people and have all of the important bits right at my fingertips. My thanks to Charles River...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dao Le

    Decent biographis of the men who changed America

  5. 5 out of 5

    Eric Kausrud

    Short but interesting. I couldn't help but thinking things haven't really changed that much in the last 150 years.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Vikas Datta

    A most relevant - not to forget cautionary - read..

  7. 4 out of 5

    salvatore sabatucci

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Streeter

  9. 4 out of 5

    James

  10. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

  11. 5 out of 5

    Manish Burman

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sam A. Paiz

  13. 5 out of 5

    Grace A. Herrmann

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Beasley

  15. 4 out of 5

    Francesco

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tom Monahan

  17. 4 out of 5

    Theodore H Schaefer

  18. 5 out of 5

    Darryl Fess

  19. 5 out of 5

    Donna

  20. 4 out of 5

    Blake Hendricks

  21. 4 out of 5

    J. Fred Owsley

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jane Murphy

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robert Bromwich

  24. 5 out of 5

    Thomas W Schindler

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robert Heath

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nikolaj Toepfer

  27. 5 out of 5

    Vaibhav Garg

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Quinn

  29. 4 out of 5

    allan k elliott

  30. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Rees

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