THE MONEY GAME IN OLD NEW YORK: Daniel Drew and His Times by Clifford Browder

THE MONEY GAME IN OLD NEW YORK: Daniel Drew and His Times

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Back in 1910, Bouck White titillated reform-minded American readers with his Book of Daniel Drew, a sensationalized expos‚ of the man who, along with Vanderbilt, Gould and Fisk, skimmed millions of dollars from the coffers of the expanding steamboat and railroad industries during the 19th-century's middle decades. He achieved this through a combination of Yankee shrewdness, singleminded dedication to ""business,"" and outright chicanery. Now, 75 years later, Browder has taken it upon himself to set the record straight. He has his work cut out for him: Daniel Drew is, even in this revisionist view, very unappealing. Drew lacked the rowdy character traits that gave some human dimension to many of his fellow robber barons. Jim Fisk, for example, loved sharp deals, showgirls and champagne, in that order. Cornelius Vanderbilt, when not bribing senators or cornering the market, was fond of ""wrastlin'"" and high-stepping horses. Drew, on the other hand, was humorless, hypocritical, as flinty as the soil of the hardscrabble farm where he was born. When he wasn't fleecing shareholders, he could be found making lachrymose confessions of his ""sins"" at revival meetings. He brazenly manipulated the stock market, double-crossing business colleagues along the way, then funded churches and seminaries with his profits. If Drew was correct when he stated, ""God keeps a full set of books,"" we can only hope he took a fast-talking accountant with him when he died. Browder's narrative focuses primarily on the ins-and-outs of Drew's Wall Street machinations. The text is chockablock with ""puts and calls,"" ""bulls and bears,"" ""shorts and longs""--the arcana of the stock market; for the reader less than fascinated by such a recital, the going can be very rough indeed. The ""action"" of the biography takes place largely in board rooms, brokers' offices, legislative chambers and courtrooms, seldom venturing out into a larger, more colorful milieu. In the company of the dour Mr. Drew, the effect can be downright claustrophobic.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Univ. Press of Kentucky