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The Merchant of Power: Sam Insull, Thomas Edison, and the Creation of the Modern Metropolis

 
 
Author
John F. Wasik.
Publisher Palgrave  
Format paperback
Product Dimensions 8.25 x 5.5 x 0.75 inches
ISBN 9780230609525
Pages/Publication Date 270/2006
Daedalus Item Code 44045
This item is not available.
Description
This rags-to-riches story from business journalist and Bloomberg News columnist John Wasik recounts how Sam Insull—right hand to Thomas Edison—became one of the richest men in the world as a pivotal figure in the birth of General Electric and the development of the power grid for modern major cities. Wasik also charts Insull's extraordinary fall, revealing a cautionary tale about the excesses of corporate power.

"The forgotten energy tycoon of the early 20th century ... Insull came to America from England in 1881 with $200 in his pocket to be Thomas Edison's private secretary and died in a Paris metro station in 1938 with 84 cents in his pocket. In between, he helped Edison light up New York and moved to Chicago, where he built a corporate empire that raised his personal worth to over $150 million ($1.7 billion in today's dollars); then he lost everything in the Great Depression. The collapse of his companies made him the bęte noire of thousands of his now destitute Chicago shareholders and, according to the author, a model for Orson Welles's Citizen Kane. Wasik notes that Insull was instrumental in two fundamental shifts in American history: first, his innovations in the delivery of electric power made possible the consumer age; second, the failure of his financial empire became a basis for the New Deal laws that now govern much of corporate America. Wasik writes well, and Insull is a complex man whose life and times make worthwhile reading."—Publishers Weekly

 
 
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