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The Financier

(Trilogy of Desire #1)

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  6,456 ratings  ·  262 reviews
Alternate cover edition of ISBN 9780452008250

A master of literary naturalism, Dreiser is known for his great intensity and keen journalistic eye as he examines real-life subjects. This powerful novel explores the dynamics of the financial world during the Civil War and after the stock-market panic caused by the Great Chicago Fire.

The first in a ''trilogy of desire,'' The
Paperback, 460 pages
Published November 1st 1967 by Plume (first published 1912)
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Forked Radish The Financier is the same thematically as all of Dreiser novels i.e. radical socialism (Dreiser "Praised the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin during t…moreThe Financier is the same thematically as all of Dreiser novels i.e. radical socialism (Dreiser "Praised the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin during the Great Terror" and "Joined the Communist Party USA" Wikipedia), but with the addition of plagiarized and lampooned Horatio Alger elements viz. Ragged Dick.(less)

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Glenn Russell
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Photo of Theodore Dreiser around the time he wrote The Financier

“In short, he was one of those early, daring manipulators who later were to seize upon other and even larger phases of American natural development for their own aggrandizement.” Thus speaketh Dreiser on his main character.

If there was ever a novel spotlighting American character, this is it. Theodore Dreiser goes right to the heart of the heart of American business and industry with this novel featuring Frank Cowperwood, a man who
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: american
Nothing New Under the American Sun

There is scarcely any internal dialogue in The Financier. All is surface, not to say superficial. Frank, the protagonist, is driven entirely by the opinion of others and is yet entirely self-centred in defiance of all Jungian psychological types. He cannot be analysed, only observed and documented by Dreiser's hyper-realism.

Morality exists for Frank as an abstract category but not as a demand for doing the right thing. The right thing is the commercially and, e
Avaricious, greedy for power, unscrupulous manipulator, financial genius, amassing millions? 😈

The hero fascinated and repelled me at the same time.
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
I kept being fascinated by this trilogy throughout a large chunk of my childhood. Gosh! It was so engrossing! Like a window to the big world of the yet unknown things. I kept reading and rereading it multiple times.

Not sure I'll like it as much these days if I do dare to reread.

The last part was, however, very different from the beginning, in terms of psychology. Considering it was published poshumously, one can't help if the plot was highjacked by some shadow writer to get it ready for publishi
E. G.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Introduction, by Larzer Ziff
Suggestions for Further Reading
A Note on the Text

--The Financier
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
“Dreiser the Magnificent: Prose like a glacier of truth, massive, powerful and beautiful; shall not slide easily, oilily, oozily down the tender gullets of twiddling aesthetes, no; but rather, hammers on the door of the mind like Beethoven knocking, thunders, silences with glory, soaked in awe.”

Edward Abbey
Rick Slane reads more reviews less
I find his writing style awkward especially when he deals with complicated financial dealings and legal matters.
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the first book of a trilogy about the life of financier Frank Cowperwood, loosely based on the life of a Chicago streetcar tycoon. This first part of his story is set in post-civil-war Philadelphia. Frank rises quickly from middle-class beginnings to the financial heights due to his cleverness and disregard for legalities and regulations. Due to a miscalculation and a market plunge after the Chicago Fire, he is exposed (both financially and legally) and this book describes his trial, con ...more
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-fiction
This book is available for free download from a variety of sources. Many different electronic formats are possible through The Gutenberg Project and ManyBooks. A free audio book can be downloaded from archive.org. Penn State University has the book for free download as a PDF file. There is the inevitable Google Books, and many others.

I did my bit to accelerate the collapse of brick-and-mortar bookselling by downloading this as a free ebook after seeing and perusing a paper copy at the last old-s
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Theodore Dreiser's The Financier (1912), based on the real-life story of a high-finance dark winner Charles Yerkes, is my favorite novel. Period. Dreiser’s star of the story, Frank A. Cowperwood, shines in a historic line of Western cultural antiheroes – acquisitive, cunning, seductive big bad characters who hit resistance. I put Cowperwood with Satan in Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (1667) and Michael Corleone in Mario Cuzo’s The Godfather (1972) film and J.R. Ewing in the tv soap drama Dall ...more
I picked this up on the recommendation of possibly either Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky. Not directly, of course, but because they wrote about it in something that I read that either of them wrote. Despite a lot of heady and difficult to understand financial talk, its a remarkable story of the greed and sense of privilege exhibited by the very wealthy. Frank Algernon Cowperwood is kind of a selfish ass. He steps on everyone in his way. He lies, cheats and steals when he is already a millionaire. H ...more
Tina Tamman
May 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The novel is of course old and wordy but I enjoyed it very much because human nature and living on credit have not changed, are with us as much today as they were then. Although first published in 1912, the book goes back even further to the 1870s. In a way it could be seen as a kind of history of the United States of that period. As to the modern reader, who today does not want to be successful and clever, have a lot of money etc? The world has not changed that much.
The novel covers about a doz
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
'The Financier' is the first book in a trilogy that looks a personalities through objective lenses based on Dreiser's view of the world. In a sense it is an amorality play. It's main character is covered from his youth through his rise in the financial industry to his downfall and imprisonment and his financial redemption. I paints a character in depth that pursues whatever he desires, and is seen as intelligent and precise and unruffled by anything that might block his path.
The reader is made t
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Even though the main character, Cowperwood, seemed a precursor to Ayn Rand, I found the novel compelling, not least the details of city life in era after the Civil War. The trolley lines were just forming and there was a rough, mad scramble to secure the best routes. The first penitentiary, based on Quaker ideas of solitary confinement had just been opened. Cowperwood's morality may have been dubious but it was impossible not to keep reading. Sample quote:

"That thing conscience, which obsesses a
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The narrator follows crude businessman Frank Cowperwood through an affair, illegal trading and jail. I think this book is one you'll either love or hate. In my opinion, Cowperwood is sexualized because he gets what he wants regardless of the feelings of others. Read Friedrich Nietszche if you want to study Frank's intentions--he's a Nietzschean overman without a doubt. ...more
Kate S
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: brighid, 2016
I am intrigued. Looking forward to finishing this trilogy.
Self-seeking and corruption in finance and politics.
Vladimir Znamensky
I’ve heard that it’s a wonderful book. So, it’s true. I was pleasantly surprised.
The most interesting thing is how the author managed to strike a balance between the ordinary life and Frank’s financial strategies. As a rule, I come across two types of similar books: 1) 90% is a romantic story about a pair of lovers; 10% is about law, economy or something like that; 2) the situation is vice versa.
But in this case the author incorporated personal and family problems in professional part of Frank
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
this is a very politically correct written book. It has love, betrayel, intrigue, atmosphere, good descriptions, nice ideas. However it lacks emotion. That is why 4 stars or 3,5 if I could. Everything is very clearly and soberly presented, even the emotions of the characters are so thoughly described, that they don't produce any impact on the reader at all.
The whole financial stuff - I didn't quite understood everything but it is not that important. You get into the story.
Because of the sober
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recently I was thinking about books which could be recommended for people to get some knowledge of(and love eventually) the domain they work for. This book is a great example of the principle - highly recommended to everyone and especially for people going to be involved with financial/investment industry.

Apart from interesting historical details, plot which keeps the reader tense(in a positive way) and examples of political intricacies book also was useful for me as a source of this spirit of c
Judy P. Sprout
Alternate title: Frank Gives Zero Fucks

I looooove Dreiser but this was just... there was a week where I put it down and feared to pick it up again, about where it really gets mired in complicated stock schemes. And I'm no financial shrinking violet. I can hang. But this one almost got away from me.

Still good though. Frank -- wow, what a character. I know this guy. You might know this guy. Just devastatingly accurate.

Two more in the trilogy. I'm a little fearful.
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Manipulation of financial markets, government corruption and personal scandal are at the center of this underrated American saga that captures the rise, fall and rise again of a 19th century entrepreneur.
May 20, 2022 rated it it was ok
the best part of this book was when cowperwood was finally going to jail and his wife, after spending the entire book not leaving him after knowing he didn’t love her and also that he was having an affair, was like “lol bye”
Sep 19, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
A slow read with minimal plot progress. Somehow it was mildly interesting, but I was forced to read this one for a class. Not something I would have picked up on my own.
Ruslan Khalilov
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wish I would have read this book when I was 18 :)
A fascinating story of a financier with unconventional life principles who made his way up through a world of corruption, greed and social pressure.

There are a lot of things to debate in the behavior of the main character, but for sure this book won't leave you indifferent.


Amy Heinz
Sep 24, 2019 rated it liked it
I found this historical novel (set with the backdrop of the 1871 great Chicago Fire and the 1873 financial panics) to be an interesting reflection of American greed and avarice. I keep reflecting on how like Frank Cowperwood mainstream America acted in the run-up to the 2008 real estate bubble. I’m inclined to listen to the rest of the trilogy on audiobook.
Valentyn Danylchuk
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"The most futile thing in this world is any attempt, perhaps, at exact definition of character. All individuals are a bundle of contradictions – none more so than the most capable."
Dreiser obviously gave this plenty of thought. His characters are indeed as contradicted as our thoughts can be in real life. You won't be cringing like with some other stories, "oh how could he do that", because any twisted choice by each character will be thoroughly explained by their internal struggle and unstable
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
good series from Dreiser, Financier set in Philadelphia, Titan set in Chicago, Stoic set in London
Anna Cardoso
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
too much financial stuff (which is cool, but not part of my interest) and I don't like personality of the main hero. ...more
Does anyone else out there remember Borders? It was one of my favorite book stores to go to because I always had luck finding a wide variety of classic novels there. Quite a few of the books in my personal library came from their shelves, including Theodore Dreiser's The Financier. I sure do miss that place. Every time I see a Borders price sticker on the back of one of my books I wish it were still around. I am still nursing a grudge against Barnes and Noble classics, so now I do most of my cla ...more
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Financial monster or role model? 1 1 Feb 22, 2019 07:29AM  
Theodore Dreiser: The Financier 1 1 Nov 21, 2017 09:20AM  

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Naturalistic novels of American writer and editor Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser portray life as a struggle against ungovernable forces. Value of his portrayed characters lies in their persistence against all obstacles, not their moral code, and literary situations more closely resemble studies of nature than tales of choice and agency; this American novelist and journalist so pioneered the natura ...more

Other books in the series

Trilogy of Desire (3 books)
  • The Titan (Trilogy of desire, #2)
  • The Stoic (Trilogy of desire, #3)

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