The Associates: Four Capitalists who Created California
One hundred and forty years ago, four men rose from their position as middle-class merchants to become robber barons and, in the end, civilization-creating philanthropists. Their names were Collis Huntington, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins, and they were known as "The Big Four," or "The Associates." Their moneymaker was the building of the transcontinental railroad, but what stands out in their story is how smarts, rapacity, and sheer luck characterized the dizzy growth of California. Buccaneers of the untrammeled capitalism of the Gilded Age, the four nevertheless left behind a legacy of philanthropy and cultural institutions that has made California the capital of the American West. Having written about confidence artists in earlier books, author Rayner has a knack for detecting the fraudulence that so often lurks behind business success. This is a fresh retelling of a quintessentially American story.--From publisher description.