Sam Ward had a finger in more pies, was connected with more people, famous in literary circles, intellectual life and politics, than almost any man of his day. The absolute cosmopolite, the social adventurer, he dabbled in many things, and cut a wide swathe, if not a deep one. His life story spans three continents (Europe, North and South America); he was an intimate of Longfellow (the Longfellow letters comprise a large part of the book), of the group that composed Longfellow's intimate circle of friends; he was business associate in successive rises and falls of fortune with many of the leading financiers of his day; he won the title of King of the Lobby in his Washington years; he made and lost numerous fortunes; he lived through personal sorrows such as few have to face; his family included such famous people as Julia Ward Howe (his sister), Francis Marion Crawford, the Winthrop Chanlers, and many others. It is an intimate searchlight on certain facets of American social and literary history, told largely in letters, extracts from memoirs, and running commentary (by one of his nieces). He was generally considered a failure in life -- some thought him a bounder; but this shows him, with all his weaknesses, greatly beloved and essentially brilliant and fine, though unstable and unorientated. A book which will interest people of the generation that impinged on his -- for a certain nostalgic looking backward.