Michael Hiltzik delivers a well-studied, in-depth view of the forming of the American railroads from the Gilded Age through the Great War. Perhaps eveMichael Hiltzik delivers a well-studied, in-depth view of the forming of the American railroads from the Gilded Age through the Great War. Perhaps even too detailed for those of us without intricate knowledge of stocks, bonds, and how Wall Street operates.
The initial profiteers, visionaries such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Daniel Drew, James Fisk, and Jay Gould, used the railroad ventures as vehicles for amassing huge wealth. John J. Hill, and later, John Pierpont Morgan and Edward Henry Harriman, then entered the scene to use more responsible decision-making to improve the systems in place, yet still with the main objective of making exorbitant profits.
As the magnates grew larger and richer, the general public tired of seeing their own expenses increasing, job security diminish, and their pocketbooks dwindle, causing a dangerous labor movement and provoking journalists to began a “muckraking” campaign against the ongoing injustices practiced by big business.
The wars between the railroads were the direct cause of several, depression-like waves of financial panic – one in 1873, another in 1893, forcing the government to regulate not only the railroad industry, but steel, oil, and other monopolies as well (i.e. Sherman Antitrust Act).
Finally, at the dawn of the 20th century, President Theodore Roosevelt took charge and ended, once and for all, the shenanigans of those big-time players.
In hindsight, the robber barons of the late 19th century served a beneficial purpose, as they moved us into the progress of the 20th century....more
Just finished "The British Are Coming", which explains the early years of the American Revolution in extraordinary detail. Atkinson's style of writingJust finished "The British Are Coming", which explains the early years of the American Revolution in extraordinary detail. Atkinson's style of writing brings the events to life, making it easy to envision in your mind. You almost feel as if you are actually there!
Though familiar with the series of the events of the period, I'm still looking forward to volume 2 of "The Revolution Trilogy."
A "must-read" for any American history enthusiast!...more
**spoiler alert** A very intriguing story of Canadian William Samuel Stephenson, whose wealth of resources, dedication, and self-sacrifice, was perhap**spoiler alert** A very intriguing story of Canadian William Samuel Stephenson, whose wealth of resources, dedication, and self-sacrifice, was perhaps the primary factor in the Allied victory over world tyranny during the mid-20th century.
Apparently, some of the espionage stories of the Cold War era featuring characters such as James Bond, are actually based on fact!
Though I'm astute in most of the history of the Second World War, A Man Called Intrepid enlightened me in so much that I was previously unaware of. For example, how close German scientists actually were to creating an atomic bomb, or that General Douglas MacArther became such a dangerous and uncontrollable, yet very powerful, renegade.
Though many of the characters are familiar, such as: "Wild Bill" Donovan, whose OSS evolved into the CIA; Ian Fleming, creator of Agent 007; Neils Bohr, Father of atomic physics, and others, are revealed.
Then there was the British Intelligence Officer, Kim Philby, who doubled as a Russian spy, relaying top-secret information to the Soviets. Between Philby and the notorious Klause Fuchs, the setbacks to the Allied "atomic project" is immeasurable.
The importance of the Polish underground in obtaining the Enigma code machine and the accumulative effort to break the various codes created from it by the Nazis as well as the Japanese, is immeasurable.
The Axis campaign to enhance the American spirit of isolationism and break-off support of the British Isles was an ongoing campaign even prior to Pearl Harbor and formal US involvement in the conflict.
Perhaps the Japanese expansion into Southeast Asia and the subsequent attack on Pearl Harbor may have been due to Nazi influence to turn the attention of the United States toward the Pacific and away from Europe.
The book sheds light on the jealousy of other US agencies (i.e. J. Edgar Hoover and his beloved FBI), as well as the extent of Nazi as well as Soviet infiltration in the Americas before the US officially entered the war.
With Bletchley Park's contingency station in the Rockefeller Center, it's no wonder there were so many interested spies in the New York City area.
The many covert missions to the plant in Norway to destroy the source of heavy water for the Nazi atomic program are touched on repeatedly, which is another aspect of the "behind the scenes" endeavors that I had never been exposed to.
Then there are the aspects of the Dieppe Raid that proved it not quite as much of a failure as most have deemed it in retrospect.
Like so many involved in the intelligence field during that period, whose motives drove them to acts of sabotage and guerilla warfare practice, they sought no compensation, or glory, or notoriety. They simply wanted to defeat the aggressors and save their homelands.
A real to life page-turner, I definitely recommend this one!...more
Amazing how the "Big 3", FDR, Churchill, and Stalin, were mostly just figureheads in the post-war planning of the globe as it still stands today for tAmazing how the "Big 3", FDR, Churchill, and Stalin, were mostly just figureheads in the post-war planning of the globe as it still stands today for the most part. But the "nuts and bolts" that influenced the planning comprised the six characters that are central to this book.
While the majority of the Wise Men and their proteges had bonds from elite, east coast schools, others joined from less prestigious and even rural backgrounds. Though all of the six main characters had their blatant flaws and weaknesses, it was the unique talents of each individual and the chemistry of them working toward common ideals that made them so effective.
Also, the massive amount of self-sacrifice put forth by these individuals shows how immensely the "values" of "the greatest generation" have deviated, most notably since the Viet Nam conflict.
Though it was a fairly lengthy read, and at times seemed rather grueling, it definitely was a worthwhile endeavor by the time the final paragraphs were reached.
A fascinating read, by an author who has proven his worth, time, and time again.