HISTORY

The Hour of Fate: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Battle To Transform American Capitalism

Bloomsbury. May 2020. 416p. ISBN 9781635572490. $30. HIST
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Berfield (Bloomberg Businessweek) is no stranger to covering corporations as an investigative journalist. Her first book begins with the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, describing in recurring fashion the recently sworn-in president, Theodore Roosevelt, and the capitalist of his time, J.P. Morgan. Originally thought of as a potential ally to Wall Street, having grown up wealthy himself, Roosevelt almost immediately struck out on his own; using the bully pulpit to try to reign in big business by suing Northern Securities, a massive railroad trust. Berfield expertly sets up this epic legal battle, ultimately decided in Roosevelt and the U.S. government’s favor by the Supreme Court, intimately describing both Roosevelt and Morgan. While diving into the inner thoughts of his subjects, Berfield simultaneously encompasses the political and social revolt of the moment, examining the anthracite coal strike. Photographs are incorporated thought, along with a selected biography and end notes.
VERDICT It’s no easy task to write a dual biography while also incorporating the feelings and emotions of the historical moment, yet Berfield accomplishes all of this. An extremely readable work that will engage American history and business readers everywhere.

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