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Unlikely Trust: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Improbable Partnership That Remade American Business

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At the dawn of the twentieth century, Theodore Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan were the two most powerful men in America, perhaps the world. As the nation's preeminent financier, Morgan presided over an elemental shift in American business, away from family-owned companies and toward modern corporations of unparalleled size and influence. As president, Theodore Roosevelt At the dawn of the twentieth century, Theodore Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan were the two most powerful men in America, perhaps the world. As the nation's preeminent financier, Morgan presided over an elemental shift in American business, away from family-owned companies and toward modern corporations of unparalleled size and influence. As president, Theodore Roosevelt expanded the power of that office to an unprecedented degree, seeking to rein in those corporations and to rebalance their interests with those of workers, consumers, and society at large. Overpowering figures and titanic personalities, Roosevelt and Morgan could easily have become sworn enemies. And when they have been considered together (never before at book length), they have generally been portrayed as battling colossi, the great trust builder versus the original trustbuster. But their long association was far more complex than that, and even mutually beneficial. Despite their many differences in temperament and philosophy, Roosevelt and Morgan had much in common--social class, an unstinting Victorian moralism, a drive for power, a need for order, and a genuine (though not purely altruistic) concern for the welfare of the nation. Working this common ground, the premier progressive and the quintessential capitalist were able to accomplish what neither could have achieved alone--including, more than once, averting national disaster. In the process they also changed forever the way that government and business worked together. An Unlikely Trust is the story of the uneasy but fruitful collaboration between Theodore Roosevelt and Pierpont Morgan. It is also the story of how government and business evolved from a relationship of laissez-faire to the active regulation that we know today. And it is an account of how, despite all that has changed in America over the past century, so much remains the same, including the growing divide between rich and poor; the tangled bonds uniting politicians and business leaders; and the pervasive feeling that government is working for the special interests rather than for the people. Not least of all, it is the story of how citizens with vastly disparate outlooks and interests managed to come together for the good of their common country.


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At the dawn of the twentieth century, Theodore Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan were the two most powerful men in America, perhaps the world. As the nation's preeminent financier, Morgan presided over an elemental shift in American business, away from family-owned companies and toward modern corporations of unparalleled size and influence. As president, Theodore Roosevelt At the dawn of the twentieth century, Theodore Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan were the two most powerful men in America, perhaps the world. As the nation's preeminent financier, Morgan presided over an elemental shift in American business, away from family-owned companies and toward modern corporations of unparalleled size and influence. As president, Theodore Roosevelt expanded the power of that office to an unprecedented degree, seeking to rein in those corporations and to rebalance their interests with those of workers, consumers, and society at large. Overpowering figures and titanic personalities, Roosevelt and Morgan could easily have become sworn enemies. And when they have been considered together (never before at book length), they have generally been portrayed as battling colossi, the great trust builder versus the original trustbuster. But their long association was far more complex than that, and even mutually beneficial. Despite their many differences in temperament and philosophy, Roosevelt and Morgan had much in common--social class, an unstinting Victorian moralism, a drive for power, a need for order, and a genuine (though not purely altruistic) concern for the welfare of the nation. Working this common ground, the premier progressive and the quintessential capitalist were able to accomplish what neither could have achieved alone--including, more than once, averting national disaster. In the process they also changed forever the way that government and business worked together. An Unlikely Trust is the story of the uneasy but fruitful collaboration between Theodore Roosevelt and Pierpont Morgan. It is also the story of how government and business evolved from a relationship of laissez-faire to the active regulation that we know today. And it is an account of how, despite all that has changed in America over the past century, so much remains the same, including the growing divide between rich and poor; the tangled bonds uniting politicians and business leaders; and the pervasive feeling that government is working for the special interests rather than for the people. Not least of all, it is the story of how citizens with vastly disparate outlooks and interests managed to come together for the good of their common country.

30 review for Unlikely Trust: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Improbable Partnership That Remade American Business

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

    Helferich's An Unlikely Trust is a great, quick read about the interconnectedness between Roosevelt and Morgan at a time in American history when big business and government began to become interconnected. This work shows what two men in power, albeit different types of power, can accomplish when they think they have the betterment of society at heart, even if they do not realize the true ramifications of their actions. I have read extensively about Roosevelt, including all of the books listed b Helferich's An Unlikely Trust is a great, quick read about the interconnectedness between Roosevelt and Morgan at a time in American history when big business and government began to become interconnected. This work shows what two men in power, albeit different types of power, can accomplish when they think they have the betterment of society at heart, even if they do not realize the true ramifications of their actions. I have read extensively about Roosevelt, including all of the books listed by Helferich in the further reading section of the text, and I still found this book to be an insightful read. Helferich is successful in his task and provides readers with a valuable addition to the history of these two men. Every now and then, it seemed to drift but quickly came back to the point. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys American history, business history, political science, or just wants to gain a better understanding of how business and the American government became reliant and dependant upon one another. This work is very timely based on today's society. I really wish I would have been able to read this work when taking my Theodore Roosevelt graduate class; it would have added a lot to the conversation. Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the advanced ebook copy of this work in exchange for my honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    An Unlikely Trust is a dual biography of J. Pierpont Morgan, head of America's money and Wall Street in the late 19th and early 20th century, and Theodore Roosevelt, the esteemed American President, and their battles about trusts, unions, and business in general. It chronicles their early lives to provide context, but mainly focuses on the interactions between the two, especially during major events such as the 1907 Panic and the Anthracite Coal Strike. Be forewarned: this is not a book to be re An Unlikely Trust is a dual biography of J. Pierpont Morgan, head of America's money and Wall Street in the late 19th and early 20th century, and Theodore Roosevelt, the esteemed American President, and their battles about trusts, unions, and business in general. It chronicles their early lives to provide context, but mainly focuses on the interactions between the two, especially during major events such as the 1907 Panic and the Anthracite Coal Strike. Be forewarned: this is not a book to be read lightly, as it covers topics with minute detail that can be boring and confusing without prior knowledge (though some context is given). The biggest problem was that the actual interaction between the two men was minimal, and as they did their most interesting things with nothing to do with the other, the book seems bland as the author tries to grasp for connections that don't seem to exist except for small periods of time between intermediaries. It seemed like they were hovering near each other but facing different ways, so there was very little that they actually did together, though each did much alone. The most interesting section, to me, was the Panic of 1907 because it showed the true influence and character of J. P. Morgan, a person of a bygone era, as he attempted and succeeded to save the country from total ruin. The book was extremely well researched, providing detail that comes from only careful, thorough reading. A digital copy of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. You know their names, and you likely know why you know their names, but you have probably rarely ever associated these two men together. This book explores the unlikely partnership between Roosevelt and Morgan and how it impacts American business. It is a wonderfully researched and constructed book, with plenty of new information and/or perspective to keep even the most ardent Roosevelt admirer engaged.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Casey Wheeler

    I received a free Kindle copy of An Unlikely Trust by Gerard Helerich courtesy of Net Galley and Rowman Littlefield, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review to Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus pages. I requested this book as I have an interest in presidential biographies and I have read a number on Theodore Roosevelt.  The subtitle of the book, "Theo I received a free Kindle copy of An Unlikely Trust by Gerard Helerich courtesy of Net Galley and Rowman Littlefield, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review to Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus pages. I requested this book as I have an interest in presidential biographies and I have read a number on Theodore Roosevelt.  The subtitle of the book, "Theodore Roosevelt, J. P. Morgan and the Improbable Partnersip that Remade American Business", is a good synopsis of this book. It is well researched and an engaging read. If focuses on the relationship between the two while covering some of their life prior to working together and afterwards. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in American History, Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt in particular and trust busting.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marianne Evans

    “Colossal Figures and Titanic Personalities” make for a complicated story of business history in America. I thoroughly enjoyed the personal stories of Teddy and Pierpont, however I got swallowed up in the detailed stories that built our anti-trust laws today. Business students would really love this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Deshay

    This book covers the facts, if perhaps a short, edited version of the facts but did not fully convey for me the personalities of either Morgan or Roosevelt. Such a fascinating time period and this book just sort of skimmed it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jack Laschenski

    J.P Morgan was not even rich! Teddy was not either. But both wielded immense power at the beginning of the 20th century. An interesting dual sort of bio!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brian Martin

    It is tackling two complicated peers in 200 pages. It takes the right approach of highlighting specific events and contrasts how the two figures handled the events.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rory Medina

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rich Carpenter

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sweetpea

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vincent Schaefer

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nick S

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Gartin

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brad

  20. 5 out of 5

    Heath Clary

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brian Spinnato

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mr. Book

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mark Lane

  24. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

  25. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

  26. 4 out of 5

    John Galante

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brett Martinez

  28. 5 out of 5

    benji

  29. 5 out of 5

    Robert Holmes

  30. 5 out of 5

    Prentice Sargeant

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