Boss Tweed (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Kenneth Ackerman’s Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York is a richly colored tale of ambition, greed, and skullduggery in Gilded Age America. Perhaps because of his experiences working in Washington in the last decades of the twentieth century, Ackerman has been drawn to the history of the Gilded Age, the raucous and flamboyant period in American history between the end of the Civil War and the Progressive era. Many commentators of the late twentieth century wondered if the gaudily prosperous years dominated by the likes of President Ronald Reagan were not another age of excess. One can easily imagine businessmen Michael Milken, Donald Trump, and Bill Gates all thriving in the industrialized society of the century before their own. Certainly the scandals, crashes, and bubbles of the 1980’s and 1990’s would have been familiar to the tycoons and Wall Street operatives of the 1880’s and 1890’s.
The Gilded Age marked the real emergence of modern America. The period received its name from a novel by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner which famously criticized the political and economic corruption which sprang up in the years following the Civil War. The triumphant Republican Party, heir to the “American System” of Henry Clay and the economic nationalism of Alexander Hamilton, felt no compunctions about using the power of the national government to spur economic development, through...
(The entire section is 1877 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Booklist 101, no. 12 (February 15, 2005): 1054.
Campaigns and Elections 26, no. 3 (April, 2005): 46.
Kirkus Reviews 73, no. 6 (March 15, 2005): 323.
Library Journal 130, no. 3 (February 15, 2005): 138.
The New York Review of Books 52, no. 19 (December 1, 2005): 52-55.
The New York Times Book Review 154 (March 27, 2005): 5-6.
Policy Review, August/September, 2005, pp. 82-86.
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