VATRICIAN'S PROGRESS by Stephen Becker

VATRICIAN'S PROGRESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is a literate, well-tailored biography of the once richest young man in America whose wealth extended to his personal life as well. Marshall Field I, a quiet, niggardly, Calvinist-Alger type, came to Chicago in his youth where he acquired a fortune centering around a department store. His son, Marshall Field II, a listless neurasthenic, committed suicide at 37 and his grandson, Marshall Field III, inherited the lion's share of the family cash. He was educated at Eton and Trinity and, back in Chicago, enlisted in the U.S. cavalry to help save England (he retained a slight British accent). Later he developed his fortune through astute investments but felt incomplete and built a great manor on Long Island's North Shore to stage some Gatsbyian revels. (Author Becker describes Field as Gatsby would have described him.) He abandoned this life to dedicate himself to child welfare and crusading newspapers. He underwrote PM though it lost money; built the Chicago Sun to fight the Chicago Tribune; brought European waifs to the States; and served in bettering mental health, race relations, community welfare and cultural organizations. Apparently he never once raised his voice...Well written, entertaining, even affecting, this book compels admiration both for itself and Field.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster