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Morgan: American Financier

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  562 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews

History has remembered J. Pierpont Morgan as a complex and contradictory figure, part robber baron and part patron saint. Now this magisterial biography, based extensively on new material, draws a definitive, full-scale portrait of Morgan's tumultuous life both in and out of the public eye.Morgan earned his reputation as "the Napoleon of Wall Street" by reorganizing the na

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Paperback, 796 pages
Published March 22nd 2000 by Harper Perennial (first published 1999)
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Jan-Maat
Sometimes history is written by the losers.

Strouse's thesis is that our perception of the period between the end of the civil war and the beginning of the first world war in the USA has been formed by the losers – those who argued against the trusts, the cartels, the plutocrats and as a result we can struggle to assess people like Pierpont Morgan fairly.

This book's judgement of Pierpont Morgan is summed up on pages xiv and xv of the forward, "convinced that he was guiding the country toward a sp
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Laura C.
Mar 13, 2009 Laura C. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Have you heard the one about the rich man who, when asked how much it cost to maintain his yaught, replied that if you have to ask, you can't afford it? That was J. Pierpoint Morgan. This is a serious biography about that man, by a really smart biographer, Jean Strouse. She is a Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy for another of her books, so she knows her stuff. I have to say that I read biography from a very female point of view, and that colors my opinion of the book. To Peirpoin ...more
Marks54
Apr 17, 2012 Marks54 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best biography of a plutocrat ever. This was an important person, but a fascinating person, whose career literally shaped American business. This is better than "House of Morgan" - also a fine book- and was literally a page turner, obesity a long one!
Stephen
Mar 07, 2015 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An authoritative bio. Covers in great detail JPMs personal and business life. I was mainly interested in the creation and history of the IMM and also of his art collection. Both were covered in satisfying detail. But his well documented early life was fascinating and necessary to understand his later life as well. Having only heard mean things of this man I was surprised to come away from this book with a great deal of respect for him. The way the author put context around important people, even ...more
Patrick L
Sep 15, 2012 Patrick L rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Well written, and surprisingly easy to get through. There are only a few instances where the business details become mind-numbing; they can be safely skimmed through without missing the main point. The glimpses into the personalities of his contemporaries, such as Rockefeller, Edison, and T. Roosevelt, were interesting and will probably motivate me to read biographies of them as well. The discussions of art in the later chapters got a bit tedious, because I know nothing of art history. However, ...more
Paul
Mar 25, 2013 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Long & detailed. An interesting exploration of the time period and the top 1% of the day. His attitude towards his wealth and his paternalistic outlook of America is revealing. He always felt he was dong the best for the country, and it's financial stability. Change a few names and dates and this could be taking place today. Looking at the economy today with the euphoric ups and sharp downs of the stock market, the consolidation and break up of businesses, the massing of wealth and negativit ...more
Historygirl
Morgan: American Financier remains a definitive biography of the archetypal capitalist. The author debunks some myths about his personality and business activities, while not minimizing his difficult nature and need for control, both of the people close to him, and the U.S. economy. Strouse writes a clear history of investment banking in the U.S. This is an instructive work for present times as well, when the U.S. economy features less regulation and bigger banks once again.
Teddee
Jan 09, 2009 Teddee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Details the life of Junius S. Morgan and J. Pierpont Morgan. JPM helped consolidate a number of railroads, US Steel, IMM (shipping), International Harvester, and the precursor of GE. He believed that consolidation alleviated the system of the destructive effects of unlimited competition, so although some of the antitrust criticism of him was ultimately true, he believed his approach was in the best interests of the country. Major collector of art and relics.
Kelly Bolin
Jun 21, 2014 Kelly Bolin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I only could get through half of this book. I like to read a biography to get a sense of who someone really is - I.e. how they got where they were and why they did things the way the did. I was never able to get that sense from this book. There was too much information about his art collecting and other non-business details that never seemed to get tied in to the overall narrative (or lack thereof).
Lindsey Smith
I wasn't thrilled by this one. I much preferred Ron Chernow's The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance which seemed much more detailed despite the fact that it covers Junius, Pierpont, Jack and beyond rather than Strouse's primary focus on Pierpont.
salinthebay
A 700 page tome. It has taken me months to finish this academic book about one of the Robber Barons of the 20th century. I was especially interested in how he gained/bought/sold an interest in art and artifacts. The Morgan Library in NYC is a testament to his wealth and his collection, especially his rare book collection. FYI: there is a William Blake exhibit there this month. Check it out.
Fritz
Nov 14, 2010 Fritz rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad I read this book, because I learned a lot about the United States in the late 1800's. But there was too much detail about his art collections, and overall it was less thrilling than biographies of the founders, etc. So I give it only two stars. 'It WAS OK.'
Jill Farrar
Aug 11, 2014 Jill Farrar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me almost 4 years to read this book. Started it, put it down, waited 3 years or more, then slowly plowed through it. Learned a lot, liked the information. Still a big slog. Now I am going to read something that is just fun to clear my head.
Alison Clark
Apr 15, 2009 Alison Clark rated it really liked it
Really fascinating, especially given what's going on in today's market. How little things change sometimes...
Tom Armstrong
Mar 29, 2016 Tom Armstrong rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extraordinarily detailed biography. A little too detailed for my taste (and most casual readers, I'd imagine), but certainly a great documentation of the life of Morgan.
Tim Davidson
Mar 27, 2012 Tim Davidson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best non fiction I have read. Magnificent individual. Magnificent American. The embodiment of what the 21st century lacks.
Kristen
A sympathetic account of J.P. Morgan. A little heavy on the art collecting aspect of his life for my taste, but you do get a good sense of the man behind the money.
Lori Rasberry
This is going to take a while. I've read 25 pages, and it's full of American history. I should really enjoy it.

And I have enjoyed it!
Otis Chandler
Loved learning about Morgan and Jay and the rest. Very slow and dry and I gave up halfway as it was just taking too long. This book needs to be cut down by about 2/3.
Jonnie Enloe
Oct 08, 2011 Jonnie Enloe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Very unusual look inside very unusual man and his efforts to stay inside the lines of ethics and morals of 19th century US
Paul Del
Dec 28, 2014 Paul Del rated it really liked it
JP Morgan coin the phrase, if you have to ask how much it will cost to maintain a yacht, you probably can not afford it.
Greynomad
Mar 07, 2016 Greynomad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A man of the times. I wonder if Morgan had not been alive at the time when the US was going through growing pains where the US would be today?
Eddy
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May 30, 2016
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Feb 03, 2008
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Zachary rated it it was amazing
Mar 14, 2016
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Oct 31, 2015
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Jason Copenhaver rated it liked it
Jun 23, 2012
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Jean Strouse (born 1945) is an American biographer, cultural administrator, and critic. She is best known for her biographies of diarist Alice James and financier J. Pierpont Morgan.

Strouse was an editorial assistant at The New York Review of Books from 1967 to 1969. She was a book critic at Newsweek magazine from 1979 to 1983, and won a MacArthur Fellowship in September, 2001. She has also held f
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