The Lords of Creation A look at America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the capitalists who changed the world—setting the stage for the most devastating global financial collapse in history—from “a diligent and perceptive reporter” (Forbes).
In the decades following the Civil War, America entered an era of unprecedented corporate expansion, with ultimate financial power in the hands of a few wealthy industrialists who exploited the system for everything it was worth. The Rockefellers, Fords, Morgans, and Vanderbilts were the “lords of creation” who, along with like-minded magnates, controlled the economic destiny of the country, unrestrained by regulations or moral imperatives. Through a combination of foresight, ingenuity, ruthlessness, and greed, America’s giants of industry remolded the US economy in their own image. They established their power and authority, ensuring that they—and they alone—would control the means of production, transportation, energy, and commerce—creating the conditions for the stock market collapse of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed.
As modern society continues to be affected by wealth inequality and cycles of boom and bust, it’s as important as ever to understand the origins of financial disaster, and the policies, practices, and people who bring them on. The Lords of Creation, first published when the catastrophe of the 1930s was still painfully fresh, is a fascinating story of bankers, railroad tycoons, steel magnates, speculators, scoundrels, and robber barons. It is a tale of innovation and shocking exploitation—and a sobering reminder that history can indeed repeat itself.
“A diligent and perceptive reporter. . . . So much of what he has to say is almost eerie to read [today].” —Forbes
“A grand job—good reading, and a challenge to sound thinking. . . . A thoughtful and stimulating book, which shows careful research into facts and human motives, a thoughtful viewing of cause and effect, and a constructive approach to controversial subjects.” —Kirkus Reviews
Frederick Lewis Allen (1890–1954) was born in Boston, studied at Groton, and graduated from Harvard in 1912. He was assistant and associate editor of Harper’s Magazine for eighteen years, then the magazine’s sixth editor in chief for twelve years until his death. In addition to The Lords of Creation, Allen was well known for Only Yesterday, Since Yesterday, and The Big Change.