King Of The Robber Barons

Powerful Essays
Robber Baron: 1: an American capitalist of the latter part of the 19th century who became wealthy through exploitation (as of natural resources, governmental influence, or low wage scales)

Jay, born Jayson Gould to John Burr and Mary Gould as a small, feeble baby, was the robber baron's robber baron. He was the king manipulator of Wall Street. Although he was not the only snake on Wall Street, he was the most calculating, manipulative, and strategizing of them all.

December 6, 1892, surrounded by few family members and even fewer friends, Jay Gould lay cold in his casket. Joseph Pulitzer wrote, "…his is not a death to cause the public sorrow." He was well hated, well despised, and left this world with few people on his side. And so the book begins, describing the aftermath of his death. Edward J. Renehan, Jr. then proceeds to explain Gould's life, his complicated and tragic childhood, and from his first business dealings to his last.

Gould was born to a farmer and his wife in a small community in the Catskills. His mother died when he was nearly five; subsequently, John Burr's next two wives followed in Mary's fate, all before Jay was nine. He was reared, then, by his four older sisters who constantly doted on him. His father's poverty weighed on him and he was a very studious boy. His love for knowledge opened for him a world of opportunity, not of formal education, but in the shrewd life as a robber baron. We learn of his first business transaction to take over the rights to a new map from a man who attempted to swindle him when he was just sixteen. After writing the History of Delaware County, a book to be used in local schools, he left for New York City. Here he began his life swindling, bribing, and conni...

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...nehan's portrait of this man touched my sympathetic heart. I see Gould as a very misunderstood man, who was a crook, yes, but more a man who outsmarted and outwitted many of his competitors. He loved his family, and that was very evident. He was faithful to his wife, when most of his comrades were not.

The book could be improved if there were two authors collaborating together. Often times, one author, trying to be unbiased, can become biased. With two authors working on one piece, they can often level each other out and create a perfect balance and a more accurate portrait of an individual or time period. I greatly enjoyed Renehan's exceptional description of the famed Jay Gould. This book often kept me up later than I intended and I would highly recommend it to anyone because of the well-written and entertaining account of the ‘King of the Robber Barons.'
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