Thursday, March 27
America at the beginning of the 20th century was dominated by the rise of business titans who accumulated unprecedented wealth. Admired by some for their successful methods and vilified by others for their apparent rapaciousness (“robber barons”), few were more famous (or notorious, in the minds of many) than Andrew Carnegie, J. P. Morgan, and John D. Rockefeller. Born within a few years of one another during the 1830s, six decades later they dominated the American industrial economy as no small group had ever done before or would do again. Though conservative politically, they were revolutionaries in the most profound sense, for they overturned old orders and utterly changed how millions of people lived their lives.
Henry William Brands was born in Oregon, went to college in California, and earned graduate degrees in mathematics and history in Oregon and Texas. He taught at Vanderbilt University and Texas A&M University before joining the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, where he holds the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History. He writes on American history and politics, with books including The Man Who Saved the Union, Traitor to His Class, Andrew Jackson, The Age of Gold, The First American and TR. Several of his books have been bestsellers; two, Traitor to His Class and The First American, were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. He lectures frequently on historical and current events and can be seen and heard on national and international television and radio. His writings have been translated into Spanish, French, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Ukrainian.