A focused history of the turn-of-the-century series of events during which President Theodore Roosevelt and railroad magnate J.P. Morgan clashed over power and boundaries, paving the way for a progressive moment in America.
Excellent topic. Excellent scope. Excellent writing ... The focused scope of the book impresses immediately. In a period when names like Rockefeller, Carnegie, Hearst, Mellon and countless others roamed the landscape, Berfield assiduously concentrates on Roosevelt and Morgan. They are the drivers, the forces, the cause of action, and while others figure prominently in the story, they do so as context. She doesn’t diminish their roles, but recognizes Roosevelt and Morgan to be ultimate leaders ... The book magnificently portrays Morgan as a man who loved art and travel, despised the inefficiencies of 19th-century industry and is possessed of a will that few can match...Roosevelt’s story is equally compelling ... a strong recommendation.
... wonderfully detailed ... [Berfield's] story is about the past but also very much about the present, as our own Gilded Age raises old questions about inequality, plutocracy and what Roosevelt once called 'that most dangerous of all classes, the wealthy criminal class' ... Berfield obviously did an extraordinary amount of research, and she draws heavily on documentary evidence to paint detailed pictures. This sometimes comes at the expense of clarity. I found myself reading a Wikipedia entry on the creation of Northern Securities to sort out what had transpired...It’s a tangent that doesn’t go anywhere and diverts from the drama of the strike ... And the book may make you both sad and mad, because it serves as a poignant, painful reminder of what a real leader does.
While diving into the inner thoughts of her subjects, Berfield simultaneously encompasses the political and social revolt of the moment, examining the anthracite coal strike ... It’s no easy task to write a dual biography while also incorporating the feelings and emotions of the historical moment, yet Berfield accomplishes all of this. An extremely readable work that will engage American history and business readers everywhere.