The Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons

The Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons

by Edward J. Renehan, Jr. Edward J.
     
 

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The first balanced biography of the financier Jay Gould, the man who was not only Wall Street’s greatest villain but also its most creative genius

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Overview

The first balanced biography of the financier Jay Gould, the man who was not only Wall Street’s greatest villain but also its most creative genius

Editorial Reviews

Joseph Nocera
It's probably too strong to say the country was built by rogues. But it's not entirely wrong. Dark Genius of Wall Street may not revive Gould's reputation, but it is a useful reminder of an eternal truth.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
In the late 19th century, strong and well-moneyed families such as the Morgans and the Vanderbilts controlled the fortunes of Wall Street and the emerging industries. Renehan, author of splendid biographies of the Kennedys, Theodore Roosevelt and the naturalist John Burroughs, turns in a masterful glance at the social history of the Gilded Age as well as a brilliant biography of Gould, who outfoxed many of these other wealthy industrialists to win fame and fortune. Although his early work as a surveyor and a tanner did not bring Gould much wealth, he learned to engage in shrewd business practices that would eventually allow him to gain some dominance in the tanning industry. Wall Street and the newly emerging rail industries soon attracted his financial eye, and he turned his full attention to them. While he initially dabbled at the edges of the stock market, he picked up enough financial savvy to engineer a scheme to corner the gold market in 1869 and cause the infamous Black Friday frenzy. Renehan deftly chronicles Gould's canny financial successes in the acquisitions of the Erie, the Union and Pacific, and the Atlantic and Pacific railroads as well as the emerging telegraph industry. Maligned by his competitors and the media as an unscrupulous businessman, Gould never achieved the fame and status of Cornelius Vanderbilt or J.P. Morgan. Yet, as Renehan points out so gracefully, Gould was simply an ambitious financier in an ambitious time before the existence of regulations that his own financial deals helped create. Renehan's sumptuous prose and his dazzling research and style provide a window into Gould's ambitions and offer a first-rate social history of the financial workings of his time. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Jay Gould has been commonly regarded as the biggest robber of the robber barons, a man whose only motivation was to make money. He dominated the railroad and telegraph systems-the leading technologies of the time-and invented ways to manipulate the stock market. Some of his methods were made obsolete by the modern stock market, some were made illegal when the Securities and Exchange Commission was established, and some are still practiced today. Renehan (The Kennedys at War) maintains that Gould was not the marauding financial monster that history portrays. He reminds us that Gould's enemies were only too happy to provide grist for the anti-Gould mill, a situation Gould ignored to his own detriment. He also contradicts charges that Gould took no interest in his companies by detailing Gould's personal management of his railroad business, and he recounts Gould's philanthropy to his employees, his community, and his church-all undertaken anonymously. Eminently readable, this book takes us into the world of the Gilded Age and makes the case that history has not given Gould a fair shake. Recommended for large public libraries and academic libraries collecting in this period.-Grant A. Fredericksen, Illinois Prairie Dist. P.L., Metamora Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465068852
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
05/23/2005
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Edward J. Rehehan Jr. is the author of several books including Dark Genius of Wall Street, The Kennedys at War, The Lion’s Pride, The Secret Six, and John Burroughs. He contributes to such publications as American Heritage and has appeared on the History Channel, C-SPAN, and PBS. He lives in Rhode Island.

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