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The Big Money (The U.S.A. Trilogy #3)

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  1,386 ratings  ·  76 reviews
THE BIG MONEY completes John Dos Passos's three-volume "fable of America's materialistic success and moral decline" (American Heritage) and marks the end of "one of the most ambitious projects that an American novelist has ever undertaken" (Time). Here we come back to America after the war and find a nation on the upswing. Industrialism booms. The stock market surges. Lind ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published May 25th 2000 by Mariner Books (first published 1936)
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Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George OrwellGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellAbsalom, Absalom! by William FaulknerThe Story of Ferdinand by Munro LeafThe A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie
Best Books of 1936
40th out of 70 books — 29 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckCatch-22 by Joseph HellerThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Best Twentieth Century American Novels
120th out of 183 books — 65 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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EUA, anos 20 do Séc. XX. É com uma América a retomar a marcha interrompida pela IGM, numa América com um fosso cada vez maior e chocante entre uma classe média e alta em ascendência galopante embalada pelo canto do dinheiro fácil das Bolsas VS uma classe operária formatada pelo Fordismo e Taylorismo e empurrada para uma luta desigual e romântica contra um capitalismo, em vésperas do Crash de 1929, que Dos Passos encerra a trilogia USA.

"América a nossa nação foi vencida por estranhos que comprara
Dos Passos, John. THE BIG MONEY. (1936). ****.
This is the third and final novel in Dos Passos’ trilogy, “USA.” It is the longest novel of the three, but the one in which the selected characters are more fully explored. The author continues his examination of America and its peoples, this time in the period just after WW I up to about 1925. Times were hard for lots of reasons and jobs were scarce. Although this was the time of the Roaring Twenties, the glitter was only on the surface. Dos Passos
Jul 14, 2010 Emily added it
Shelves: read-in-2010
Do you ever start a series, and you're really digging it and read the first few books right in a row, and then decide you don't feel like reading the last book right at the moment, so you take a bit of a break, sure that you'll be back to finish up the series before any time at all because you like it so well, but then one thing leads to another and years have gone by since you devoured the first few books, and the details are no longer clear in your mind, so you put off reading the last book be ...more
I think the best of the three in the USA trilogy, although I may have just gotten used to the style. The four different writing styles, or viewpoints, help paint the picture of the era. The newsreels, the stream of consciousness, the narrative fiction and camera eye all are a bit different but add to the panorama Dos Passos is painting of the era. Sometimes I would have to remember that this wasn’t a recently written work attempting to imagine the “old days”. Dos Passos was writing about his cur ...more
Jun 01, 2011 Andy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lurid melodramatists
Recommended to Andy by: Tony Polar and Lyon Burke
Oy vey what a train wreck. The book was torn between Upton Sinclair power to the people proletariatisms and Harold Robbins potboiler men in power and their sins-type sensation. I had to occasionally check the cover to make sure I was still reading Dos Passos.
To be kind this is a Roaring Twenties "Valley of The Dolls" with Mary French as Anne Welles, Eveline Johnson as Jennifer North, and Margo Dowling as Neely O'Hara.
An interesting but not very enjoyable read. I didn’t really feel like there was any one main character in the book, and while the plot follows characters like Charley and Margo the most, the collage of newspaper headings, brief introductions to numerous famous Americans of the era, song snippets, etc., left me with the impression that it is meant to be AMERICA’s story, more than that of any particular American. Or more specifically, the post-WWI to pre-stock market crash America.

The 20’s are an
I'm so glad I finally got to read DosPassos. There's not much I can say about "The Big Money" (volume 3 of the USA trilogy) that hasn't already been said by all sorts of people much smarter than me, over the past several decades. In "The Big Money" DosPassos captures the spirit of a generation- the "lost generation"- as the lives of several characters intersect and intertwine in the years between the end of the First World War and the crash of 1929. Looking back from DosPassos' perspective at th ...more
The Big Money, the final third of Dos Passos' ambitious U.S.A. Trilogy, is every bit as strong as the first two books, The 42nd Parallel and 1919. I'm probably doing Dos Passos a disservice by calling his trilogy ambitious. The word doesn't have enough sweep to effectively describe what Dos Passos did with these three books, which is to tell the story of the United States during the first three decades of the 20th century, its technological advancements, and what Dos Passos saw as its moral decl ...more
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Dec 22, 2009 Chris rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: i-own
The Big Money is a very interesting and compelling novel that I'm glad to have read. It's actually the third book in the "USA Trilogy" following American culture through the first 3 decades of the 20th century (each novel covering one decade). The Big Money takes us through the 1920s.

The style is experimental and at times a little odd because of that. Had I not been reading this as part of a class or with some notes to help guide me, I'm certain I would have missed a lot of the nuances.

There are
Jun 19, 2008 Jerjonji added it
Shelves: the-classics
I was barely 13 and reading the headiest book I’d ever encountered: John Dos Passos’ trilogy, USA. Over 1200 pages long, I discovered an America I never knew existed, an America hidden from the children of the Cold War, not in our history books or bedtime stories, and I fell in love with the spirit of Socialism. I longed for a copy, a real paper copy of the Worker. I read Marx and understood little. I believed firmly in the power of the labor unions though I’d never met a union worker. I moaned ...more
This book gets a one star improvement over the second entry in the trilogy just because I like the darker turn/tone it takes. Dos Passos still has no clue about how to write a woman character but at least as he's gotten older he's become more bitter about them and the motives he suspects in them. This leads him to allow the women to do some of the same kind of using that had been done to them by feckless men in the first two books. So I guess you could say a certain kind of shabby equality of th ...more
Richard Bon
I struggled over whether to give this book just 1 star or 2, and eventually decided to give it 2 only because I think it makes a solid point about happiness and behavior in America - people seem to think money will bring them happiness and they often behave badly to get the money and behave even worse if they get it. The previous sentence pretty much sums up what I got out of this book, and I don't know that there's much else to be had. There's no plot, and that's OK. The characters whose storie ...more
A classic for a reason. This book (the entire trilogy really) is great writing, great history, and an excellent reminder that there really is nothing new under the sun. The lives of the characters and the times they live in (political unrest, class struggle, get rich quick schemes, war, xenophobia, etc) ring true today. The slang, however, has changed. So yes it's a little dated, but timeless at its core. Loved it.
James (JD) Dittes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Martin Mcgoey
A great book with some of the most realistic and complex characters I've ever read. You can tell this book was highly influential on contemporary narratives in its use of nonlinear storytelling and cynical realism. A stirring criticism of American culture in the 1920s.
Jan 18, 2015 Roseb612 rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Roseb612 by: 1001
Příběhy některých hrdinů se v tomto závěrečném díle uzavřou (Karlík, Margo, Evelina), ale u některých zůstává konec nevyřčený a nejasný (Eleanora, Dick, J. Ward), což mě docela mrzelo, ale evidentně je to záměr. První cca čtvrtina se věnuje Karlíkovi, tohle se četlo velmi dobře, až mě to nutilo listovat dopředu a těšit se, co bude dál. Pro mě tahle pasáž fungovala asi nejlíp z celé trilogie, i když ve finále byl právě Karlík asi největší looser z celé trilogie. Spojující role J. Ward Moorehouse ...more
Mark Sacha
It wasn't until I was nearly finished with U.S.A. that I stumbled upon the ideas of Walter Benjamin, particularly those dealing with the notion that expression is filtered through the political function of its apparatus, for instance the camera. In U.S.A, there is the traditional narrative form of the free indirect third-person, but along comes the newsreel and the camera eye, and suddenly the tone and delivery of the text is entirely changed. The way Dos Passos calls attention to these technolo ...more
Overall, it's a worthy finale to the entire story. The idea that shapes most of the narrative, that America is in fact two nations, one rich and one poor, is a natural conclusion to the earlier volumes. As part of the whole, this volume is well crafted and engaging, and follows the earlier narratives to a natural, if depressing, end. But as a stand-alone novel, it's not as well crafted or engaging as the earlier volumes. Though it had a tighter narrative structure, it lacked vitality. And the "i ...more
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This trilogy really grew on me. The farther I got into it, the more I appreciated the dramatic scope of the work and its interpretive potential. 42nd Parallel: The U.S. coming into its own, using resources, discovering how to make imperialism work. 1919: World War I, rhetoric of protecting civilization and perhaps some major changes to help the working class come out on top, upheaval, dreams, ideas. The Big Money: repression, regression, money and consumption to numb the pain of giving up on ide ...more
Jenn Raley
Of the three books in this trilogy, this one was my least favorite. What I appreciated most about the other two books was the diversity of characters - once I got a handle on keeping track of all the characters and their locations. This book focuses primarily on three characters, and the chapters are incredibly LONG. It feels like Dos Passos got lazy in his form as he tried to convey his themes in this final book in the trilogy.

The themes in this book really resonate in 2013, though. The stream-
This concluding novel of the USA Trilogy gives authentic voice to the disparate movements dominating post-WWI America. Dos Passos experienced much of what he writes about, from high society to auto mechanics to volunteer ambulance driving during WWI to art and even the labor movements and miners' strikes. The history is compelling when viewed through such varied characters as J.W. Moorehouse, Charley Anderson, Mary French and Margo Dowling as each searches for some type of meaning. Dos Passos' o ...more
Charley Anderson: riffin' off that old Minnesotan drunk FSFitzgerald, that old Jay Gatsby-gangster as big as the Ritz.

Bureaucracy and rationalization kill the little guy, and probably the big guy's soul too. Here is the kernel of disgruntled individualism that lies in productive tension with Dos Passos's early leftism, something that later evolves into Dos Passos's later right-wing crazy libertarianism and McCarthyism. Leftisms can certainly romanticize the individual, the creator of value, the
carl  theaker

Interesting tidbits from this volume - Bungalow housing style is everywhere, cheap mission furniture, hehe now probably worth a fortune!

"Old Wives Tale" by Bennett, another Modern Library Top 100 book is read by some of the characters.

The airline stocks of the era were the like the early 2000s internet bubble.

JDP likes to show how politicians and even leaders of social movements are bought and sold, betraying the little people. The high life he shows was probably shocking back then, when mone
Jon Hurd
In an interesting conjunction of events I decided to read this book at the same time as the anniversary of the Ludlow, Colorado massacre. New research is being done on the historical background of the "massacre," which points to a very complex series of interests and events. The book is, of course, fiction, but Dos Passos provides a very insightful portrait of the times. I liked the Steinbeck feel of the book, but wished for a little more intimacy with the characters. It also occurred to me that ...more
"the law stares across the desk out of angry eyes his face reddens in splotches like a gobbler's neck with the strut of the power of submachine guns sawedoffshotguns teargas and vommitgas the power that can feed you or leave you to starve.

sits easy at his desk his back covered he feels strong behind him he feels the prosecutingattorney the judge an owner himself the political boss the minesuperintendent the board of directors the president of the utility the manipulator of the holdingcompany

he l
Demisty Bellinger
This is a candid and unapologetic honest look at growing up Jewish and immigrant in New York during the turn of the century. Gold’s underlying message is that poverty is the root for all the problems in that community, and in this work, posited Communism as an alternative. He even, at the end of the book, likens the proletariat to the waited-for messiah.

Many of the characteristics of the books of this kind can be found in Gold’s piece. It is as brutal as Crane’s Maggie or Norris’ McTeague, but
The U.S.A. Trilogy is a phenomenal series. The first two books are the strongest in my opinion, but The Big Money is still an excellent book. This one chronicles the lives of primarily four individuals--two from the previous books and two new ones. Dos Passos remains committed to following people in the lower, middle, and upper classes of society giving a unique insight into America in the 1920s.

Dos Passos again shows the ugly underbelly of America without reservation, yet his characters are sy
Jesus Christ, do I really have to summarize the experience of the U.S.A. Trilogy in an internet comments section? Panoramic and epic aren't sufficient adjectives. The gold standard of American breadth and scope, perhaps? All the sadness, struggle, and over-brimming ambition, desperation, and fantasy surely lies within its covers. And there's this challenge -- if our generation doesn't produce its own answer to Dos Passos' expansive vision we have failed ourselves.
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John Roderigo Dos Passos was an American novelist and artist.

He received a first-class education at The Choate School, in Connecticut, in 1907, under the name John Roderigo Madison. Later, he traveled with his tutor on a tour through France, England, Italy, Greece and the Middle East to study classical art, architecture and literature.

In 1912 he attended Harvard University and, after graduating in
More about John Dos Passos...

Other Books in the Series

The U.S.A. Trilogy (3 books)
  • The 42nd Parallel (U.S.A., #1)
  • 1919 (U.S.A., #2)
U.S.A., #1-3 The 42nd Parallel (U.S.A., #1) Manhattan Transfer 1919 (U.S.A., #2) Three Soldiers

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“self respect. self reliance. self control.” 7 likes
“They have clubbed us off the streets they are stronger they are rich they hire and fire the politicians the newspapereditors the old judges the small men with reputations the collegepresidents the wardheelers (listen businessmen collegepresidents judges America will not forget her betrayers) they hire the men with guns the uniforms the policecars the patrolwagons all right you have won you will kill the brave men our friends tonight (author's punctuation)” 2 likes
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