Synopses & Reviews
A best-selling historian's gripping account of the powerful men who controlled America's financial destiny.
From the first days of the United States, a battle raged over money. On one side were the democrats, who wanted cheap money and feared the concentration of financial interests in the hands of a few. On the other were the capitalists who sought the soundness of a national bankand the profits that came with it.
In telling this exciting story, H. W. Brands focuses on five "Money Men": Alexander Hamilton, who championed a national bank; Nicholas Biddle, whose run-in with Andrew Jackson led to the bank's demise; Jay Cooke, who financed the Union in the Civil War; Jay Gould, who tried to corner the gold market; and J. P. Morgan, whose position was so commanding that he bailed out the U.S. Treasury.
The Money Men is a riveting narrative, a revealing history of the men who fought over the lifeblood of American commerce and power.
"Brands appraises five key players in American financial history: Alexander Hamilton, who advocated federal assumption of state Revolutionary War debt through the establishment of a national bank; Nicholas Biddle, who presided over the Bank of the United States when it failed under pressure from Andrew Jackson; Jay Cooke, who financed the Union through retail bonds during the Civil War; Jay Gould, who precipitated the Black Friday collapse of gold prices in 1869; and J.P. Morgan, who stabilized the financial panic of 1907. Each man, Brands explains, represented capitalism intertwined but in conflict with democracy. Capitalism promoted free trade and strong financial institutions, while democracy called for protectionism and financial institutions that helped customers instead of making insiders rich. This inherent tension, the author writes, was resolved by the 1913 compromise that created the Federal Reserve System. The author's generalizations, however insightful, make rigid organizing principles, given that different political and economic forces shaped each era. Focusing on one capitalist per episode also distorts the stories, as does lurching from crisis to crisis while glossing over the important consensus developments that occurred in between. Brands (Andrew Jackson) delivers a competent but schematic general history." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Focusing on five "Money Men"--Alexander Hamilton, Jay Cooke, Jay Gould, Nicholas Biddle, and J.P. Morgan--historian H.W. Brands pens a riveting narrative of the men who fought over the lifeblood of American commerce and power. 5 illustrations.
About the Author
H. W. Brands is the best-selling author of The First American, Andrew Jackson, and several other works. He is Dickson Allen Anderson Centennial Professor of History at the University of Texas and lives in Austin.