The biography of Jay Gould, the greatest 19th-century robber barons, whose brilliance, greed, and bare-knuckled tactics made him richer than Rockefeller and led Wall Street to institute its first financial reforms.
Concise ... Steinmetz overlooks this crucial point: the transition of corporations, in the popular imagination, from semi-public to private entities, from bodies sponsored by government to serve the people’s needs to concentrations of unaccountable power ... Steinmetz emphasizes Gould’s story, not...broader questions. In itself, that’s perfectly fine. Readers daunted by Klein’s volume may welcome his approach. But it’s neither an elegant work nor a scholarly one. Its sparse endnotes don’t inspire confidence ... Every biography must convince the reader of its truth, or it is another kind of writing entirely.
... smart ... Steinmetz devotes several gripping chapters to what happened when Gould applied his magician’s skills to gold, taking advantage of conflicting views within the Grant administration on the gold standard for U.S. currency. It’s a saga with multiple players and ups and downs galore.