THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF JAY GOULD by Maury Klein

THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF JAY GOULD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A revisionist biography of the financier who took advantage of the industrial revolution sweeping America in the last century to become, if not the worst of the robber barons, a leading contender for the title. Klein has unearthed much material not available to earlier biographers of Gould, including much on his subject's personal life. Gould proves to have been a devoted family man, good to his wife and children. Klein seems to feel that this aspect of Gould's character balances out his financial depredations. As is increasingly common these days, Klein attributes much of Gould's bad reputation to malicious reporting by journalists. ""By any reckoning,"" Klein writes, ""Gould must be counted among the two or three most important figures in the development of the American industrial economy. . . He was not the king of speculators content to amass riches, but the prime mover in two industries vital to the Industrial Revolution, transportation and communication. No man did more to make the railway map what it is. . ."" Klein writes a supple prose. Gould was a man ""about whom much has been written but little said."" Gould also was a man who ""purred like a cat and struck like a cobra."" Pointing out that the gap between the Gould legend and the man's reality ""is so astounding"" that he has had to present both in tandam, Klein berates most of Gould's previous biographers for sloppy work. He indicates, perhaps hopefully, that he expects a scholarly uproar over his reinterpretation. Interesting, controversial history.

Pub Date: May 26th, 1986
Publisher: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press