Right away this book displays a rare virtue: it doesn't plunge into Morgan's childhood or his bulbous nose or the between-Wharton-and-Dreiser climate of his New York. It begins with the gold transactions that turned him -- mostly through what Wheeler calls ""stagecraft"" -- from a rich middle-aged nonentity into a magnate saving the nation. In fact, August Belmont and the Rothschilds were using him as a cover for the gold sales that, contrary to tradition, didn't even bail out the U.S. Soon Wheeler's enthusiasm leads him into biographical sketches of Frick and Harriman and even the noisome king of Edwardian England. Despite his contempt for old Pierpont's ""lordly bric-a-brac"" collections, Wheeler's own writing has a nice ornate quality suited to his subject, while remaining professional in the good sense (Wheeler has written for Barron's, Newsday, etc.). The book describes Morgan's U.S. Steel trust as a shaky venture which was only salvaged by the rise of the auto business. The climax comes with the pre-World War I exposure of Morgan's inability to keep his all-powerful credit circuits from collapse. The strictures against Morgan's foul railroad management may burn the hearts of Fortune book club readers; the rest of the audience will include connoisseurs of fin de siecle Americana.