Iron Empires: Robber Barons, Railroads, and the Making of Modern America

Iron Empires: Robber Barons, Railroads, and the Making of Modern America

by Michael Hiltzik


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“Engrossing… [Hiltzik is] an able narrator, with an eye for telling detail.”—New York Times Book Review

From Pulitzer Prize–winner Michael Hiltzik, the epic tale of the clash for supremacy between America’s railroad titans.

In 1869, when the final spike was driven into the Transcontinental Railroad, few were prepared for its seismic aftershocks. Once a hodgepodge of short, squabbling lines, America’s railways soon exploded into a titanic industry helmed by a pageant of speculators, crooks, and visionaries. The vicious competition between empire builders such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, J. P. Morgan, and E. H. Harriman sparked stock market frenzies, panics, and crashes; provoked strikes that upended the relationship between management and labor; transformed the nation’s geography; and culminated in a ferocious two-man battle that shook the nation’s financial markets to their foundations and produced dramatic, lasting changes in the interplay of business and government.
Spanning four decades and featuring some of the most iconic figures of the Gilded Age, Iron Empires reveals how the robber barons drove the country into the twentieth century—and almost sent it off the rails.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544770317
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 08/11/2020
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 180,920
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

MICHAEL HILTZIK is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author who has covered business, technology, and public policy for the Los Angeles Times for three decades. Currently the Times’s business columnist, he lives in Southern California with his wife and two children.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Agents of Transformation ix

Part I The Age of Scoundrels

1 Uncle Daniel and the Commodore 3

2 Chapters of Erie 22

3 Pierpont Morgan's Grand Tour 39

4 The King of Frauds 55

5 The Northern Pacific Panic 68

6 Jay Gould Returns 92

7 Year of Upheaval 107

Part II Morgan and Harriman

8 The Rise of Ned Harriman 131

9 The First Skirmish 146

10 A Community of Interests 159

11 Savior of the Union pacific 181

12 The Reconstruction 194

13 "A Pig-Headed Affair" 212

14 The Empire Builder 234

15 The Quest for the Burlington 256

Part III The Ghost Dance

16 Peacock Alley 283

12 Lions Guarding the Way 296

18 "A Good-Sized Panic" 310

19 Exhaustion 322

20 The Trustbuster 332

21 "Malefactors of Great Wealth" 343

Epilogue: The End of an Epoch 365

Acknowledgments 373

Notes 375

Bibliography 403

List of Illustration Credits 410

Index 412

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