H. W. Brands’s American Colossus portrays the stunning transformation of the landscape and institutions of American life in these years. Brands charts the rise of Wall Street, the growth of a national economy, the building of the railroads, and the first sparks of union life. By 1900, America was wealthier than ever, yet prosperity was precarious, inequality rampant, and democracy stretched thin. A populist backlash stirred. American Colossus is an unforgettable portrait of the years when a recognizably modern America first took shape.
J.P. Morgan was a banker equally at home in the refinement of London financial circles and the rough and tumble of American industry. Andrew Carnegie immigrated from Scotland and grew enormously rich in the steel business, which he sold to JP Morgan to devote himself to philanthropy. John D. Rockefeller went from humble beginnings to become the richest man in America by consolidating his hold on the production and refining of petroleum through Standard Oil. The Populist Party was formed by those who felt that the major parties, whether Republican or Democrat, were run by big interests without regard for the common man.