Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons
Jay Gould was the robber baron’s robber baron: the greatest financial and business genius of his time and also the most widely hated. He could go head-to-head with the likes of J. P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the U.S. Treasury and almost always outsmart them. Gould was the undisputed master of the nation’s railroads and telegraph systems at a time when these were the fastest-growing new technologies of the age. His scheme to corner the gold market in 1869 caused the Black Friday panic. He created new ways of manipulating markets, assembling capital and swallowing his competitors. Many of these methods are now standard practice; others were unique to their circumstances and unrepeatable; others were among the first practices prohibited by the SEC when it came into being in the 1930s.Acclaimed biographer Edward J. Renehan, Jr., recounts the dazzling life story of a figure whose stature in his era outranks that of Bill Gates, in a time when a “corporate takeover battle” was literally a battle, involving not just lawyers and bankers but the buying and selling of judges and occasional confrontations between gangs of armed thugs. Renehan combines lively anecdotes with the rich social tapestry of the Gilded Age to create the first balanced biography of a man who was undoubtedly the greatest financial genius of his age—and one of the inventors of modern business.