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An animated account of the getting, spending and laying waste of great fortunes is at once a lineage of America's wealthiest and in concomitantly in many cases first families, but also a differentiation between those who acquired it and just spent it, those who conserved and expanded it, and those who used their wealth, inherited or accumulated, for the benefit of mankind. In the opening chapter, Tebbel offers a ""revisionist"" view of the robber , who were not completely conscienceless, and the three money monopolists Mellon, Ford and Rockefeller: Mellon, with many secret beneficences and only one extravagance, Rockefeller with no ""taste for the things money could buy""; and Ford, the "" farm boy"". The first section on the prodigal inheritors is of course the liveliest to read, and the sorriest commentary on the ostentation, foolishness, and divorce- of the Actors, Dodges, Barbara Hutton and Doris Duke, and the Vanderbilt a one of whom was to rightly conclude that ""inherited wealth to a real handicap to happiness"". The second section (and there is necessarily some overlapping) centers around the giantism, and conservatism, of the middle western tycoons, the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh families, the and the Morgans, the latter the ""ultimate... of ingrown wealth which denies its creative use"". And in the last section, Tebbel discusses the foundations, and philosophies of philantiscopy, of many great men: Carnegie who preferred the more anonymous word ""distributing"" to ""giving"": Rosenwald, with his large social vision; Harkness, Rockefeller and the Fords.... While perhaps not quite as style-wise as Cleveland Amory, still the subject has a natural shine which needs little polishing and Tebbel has handled his material with appreciable objectivity and verve.

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 1961
Publisher: Putnam