Friday, May 11, 2007

Dark Genius of Wall Street, by Edward Renehan

This book was obtained for free from, was 14 hours and 50 minutes long, and narrated by George Wilson.

This great biography is about one of the players of America's Gilded Age, Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons.

I don't know if you can really get a grasp of American history without getting to know the players. Jay Gould was the most notorious stock manipulator of the 19th century, and one of the richest men in the world during his lifetime. He began as a teen-aged land surveyor who got stiffed by his employer. From there he began publishing the maps he was stuck with, then got into the hide tanning business. By the time he was in his early 30s he owned a railroad and was driving his competitor, Cornelius Vanderbilt, crazy.

Unfortunately, he made a train wreck of his reputation in the stock market. The times were incredibly corrupt, and you had to be a dirtbag to keep from getting skinned. So he became the biggest dirtbag of them all. By the time he died, every paper could only speak ill of him.

Yet, this was a very humanizing look at a man who made a vast fortune bringing other millionaires to the point of nervous exhaustion. He was a devious competitor and a micro-managing CEO of every company he was involved in. He was brilliant, yet he was also a tragic figure who lamented, toward the end of his life, that he could give his children everything except a good name.

4 stars for this amazing trip back to Victorian Era America.

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