History has remembered J. Pierpont Morgan as a complex and contradictory figure, part robber baron and part patron saint. Now this magisterial biography, based extensively on new material, draws a definitive, full-scale portrait of Morgan's tumultuous life both in and out of the public eye.Morgan earned his reputation as "the Napoleon of Wall Street" by reorganizing the nation's railroads and creating some of its greatest industrial trusts, including General Electric and U.S. Steel. At a time when the United States had no Federal Reserve System, he appointed himself a one-man central bank. He had two wives, three yachts, four children, six houses, mistresses, and one of the finest art collections in America. In this extraordinary book, award-winning biographer Jean Strouse vividly portrays the financial colossus, the avid patron of the arts, and the entirely human character behind all the myths.
Brilliantly crafted, epic in scope, Morgan reveals a man we have never seen before, offering new insights on the culture, political struggles, and social conflicts of America's Gilded Age.
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As Americans cope with the social and industrial changes wrought by the computer age, we seem ready to view with more sympathy the men who shaped the similarly disruptive economic revolution at the turn of the last century. Less than a year after Titan, Ron Chernow's sweeping biography of capitalist par excellence John D. Rockefeller, comes Jean Strouse's searching analysis of J.P. Morgan (1837-1913), the merchant banker whose financial prowess enabled the great American businesses to grow and thrive. Like Chernow, Strouse takes a nuanced view of a man reviled by his contemporaries as a sinister monopolist. Morgan sought to stabilize the volatile American economy and raise the cash needed to fuel its meteoric expansion. His methods were controversial, particularly his fondness for industrial "combinations" that dampened competition, but Strouse's lucid résumé of the historical backdrop illuminates the thinking behind Morgan's actions. As in her groundbreaking biography Alice James, the author never settles for received wisdom, instead reading previously neglected documents with a sharp eye to offer a fresh interpretation. She vividly limns Morgan's imperious personality and such extracurricular interests as his superb art collection. But it's Strouse's ability to clearly convey complex financial material that distinguishes this book. Her chapter on the panic of 1907, which Morgan was instrumental in halting, is as exciting as a good thriller and far more instructive. --Wendy SmithFrom the Inside Flap:
A century ago, J. Pierpont Morgan bestrode the financial world like a colossus. The organizing force behind General Electric, U.S. Steel, and vast railroad empires, he served for decades as America's unofficial central banker: a few months after he died in 1913, the Federal Reserve replaced the private system he had devised. An early supporter of Thomas Edison and Andrew Carnegie, the confidant (and rival) of Theodore Roosevelt, England's Edward VII, and Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm, and the companion of several fascinating women, Morgan shaped his world and ours in countless ways. Yet since his death he has remained a mysterious figure, celebrated as a hero of industrial progress and vilified as a rapacious robber baron.
Here for the first time is the biography Morgan has long deserved--a magisterial, full-scale portrait of the man without whose dominating will American finance and culture would be very different from what they are today. In this beautifully crafted account, drawn from more than a decade's work in newly available archives, the award-winning biographer Jean Strouse animates Morgan's life and times to reveal the entirely human character behind the often terrifying visage.
Morgan brings eye-opening perspectives to the role the banker played in the emerging U.S. economy as he raised capital in Europe, reorganized bankrupt railroads, stabilized markets in times of crisis, and set up many of the corporate and financial structures we take for granted. And surprising new stories introduce us in vivid detail to Morgan's childhood in Hartford and Boston, his schooling in Switzerland and Germany, the start of his career in New York--as well as to his relations with his esteemed and exacting father, with his adored first and difficult second wives, with his children, partners, business associates, female consorts, and friends. Morgan had a second major career as a collector of art, stocking America with visual and literary treasures of the past. Called by one contemporary expert "the greatest collector of our time," he spent much of his energy and more than half of his fortune on art.
Strouse's extraordinary biography gives dramatic new dimension not only to Morgan but to the culture, political struggles, and social conflicts of America's momentous Gilded Age.
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