Taking on the Trust: How Ida Tarbell Brought Down John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil

Front Cover
W. W. Norton & Company, Mar 17, 2008 - History - 320 pages
1 Review

How a female investigative journalist brought down the world’s greatest tycoon and broke up the Standard Oil monopoly.

Long before the rise of mega-corporations like Wal-Mart and Microsoft, Standard Oil controlled the oil industry with a monopolistic force unprecedented in American business history. Undaunted by the ruthless power of its owner, John D. Rockefeller (1839–1937), a fearless and ambitious reporter named Ida Minerva Tarbell (1857–1944) confronted the company known simply as “The Trust.” Through her peerless fact gathering and devastating prose, Tarbell, a muckraking reporter at McClure’s magazine, pioneered the new practice of investigative journalism. Her shocking discoveries about Standard Oil and Rockefeller led, inexorably, to a dramatic confrontation during the opening decade of the twentieth century that culminated in the landmark 1911 Supreme Court antitrust decision breaking up the monopolies and forever altering the landscape of modern American industry. Based on extensive research in the Tarbell and Rockefeller archives, Taking on the Trust is a vivid and dramatic history of the Progressive Era with powerful resonance for the first decades of the twenty-first century.

What people are saying - Write a review

Taking on the trust: the epic battle of Ida Tarbell and John D. Rockefeller

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This is a fascinating and well-written account of the development of monopoly capitalism and the birth of investigative journalism. America's first oil boom, in northwestern Pennsylvania in the 1860s ... Read full review


A Childhood Portrait in Oil
A Young Adult Portrait in Oil
Dodging Bullets as the Oil Flows
Moving Up
Lost and Found
Discovering the Power of the Printed Word
Far from Home Close to Home
McClures Magazine
Unearthing Skeletons
Researching the Behemoth
For the Rest of Their Lives
Bibliographic Essay and Select Bibliography

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

The author of six books, Steve Weinberg has been a longtime board member of the National Book Critics Circle and currently teaches investigative journalism at the University of Missouri Journalism School. He lives in Columbia, Missouri.

Bibliographic information