Morgan: American Financier

Jean Strouse, Author Random House (NY) $34.95 (816p) ISBN 978-0-375-50166-1
Often celebrated as the ideal capitalist or excoriated as the robber baron who most epitomized the excesses and iniquities of the Gilded Age, J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) has, in Strouse, finally been accorded a biographer whose talents match his enormous legacy. Strouse (whose Alice James won the Bancroft Prize) seamlessly weaves Morgan's exploits as America's leading banker with his frenetic social life, in the process vividly evoking the spirit of the Gilded Age. Though she captures Morgan's famed imperiousness and bluster, she paints a much fuller portrait of Morgan than has hitherto been available. Morgan was the consummate financier. Responsible for the consolidation of most of the nation's railroads as well as the formation of U.S. Steel, he also helped underwrite the creation of General Electric, International Harvester and AT&T. Before there was a Federal Reserve Board, he functioned as America's de facto central banker. He famously enjoyed his wealth and wasn't shy about spreading his money around. A passionate lover of the arts, he served as president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and played a major role in building that institution into one of the finest of its kind. Strouse spent more than 10 years researching her latest work, and readers are rewarded with numerous nuggets about the colorful people who surrounded Morgan. The Morgan who emerges from these pages is, for all his hard ambition and ruthlessness, not merely ruthless and greedy. By blending the different facets of this most complicated man, Strouse humanizes--without shrinking or whitewashing--one of America's mythic figures. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 17 pages - 978-0-7887-4030-5
Paperback - 848 pages - 978-0-8129-8704-1
Open Ebook - 681 pages - 978-0-307-82767-8
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