The ""right-hand man"" of this long and readable biography by a professor of History at Columbia, author of many similar studies, is George Walbridge Perkins, Morgan partner, financial genius and political visionary, ""one of the most successful, controversial and interesting Americans of the early 20th century"" who is today little known. Born in Chicago in 1862, son of a warden of a boys' reform school, Perkins, who never went to high school, became a master of corporate finance and at 30, as vice-president of the New York Life Insurance Co., revolutionized the insurance business. Offered a partnership by J.P. Morgan on their first meeting , he was for 10 years Morgan's partner and public relations man, helped form U.S. Steel and created International Harvester; as an admirer of Theodore Roosevelt he was one of the founder of the Bull Moose Party, and with Roosevelt and Morgan was one of the creators of the Palisades Interstate Park. Beginning his phenomenal career with New York Life at a time when ""tontine"" insurance was legitimate, Perkins, whose personal integrity was higher than his sense of corporate morals, became involved in the insurance scandals of the early 1920's and was indicated, but not convicted, for larceny and forgery. In later years he campaigned for industrial co-operation under huge corporations as an antidote to the demands of organized labor. He died in 1920, at the age of 58. This meticulously documented book will appeal to students of American finance, insurance and politics and belongs both in financial and historical libraries, but others may find it weighty.