Taking on the Trust (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
The History of the Standard Oil Company (1904) remains Ida Tarbell’s lasting contribution to the development of American journalism. An indefatigable researcher and fearless reporter, Tarbell assembled a painstaking and unassailable case against the Standard Oil Trust, accusing it of ruthlessly ruining its competition, fixing railroad shipment rates, and engaging in other anticompetitive practices that made it impossible for independent oil producers and refiners to make a profit. Prone to biographical interpretations of history, Tarbell viewed the Standard Oil Trust as the embodiment of John D. Rockefeller’s rapacious personality. After publishing her landmark book, she followed up with a profile of Rockefeller in McClure’s Magazine, suggesting that his various charities were merely a public relations front to rescue the reputation of a man who engaged in restraint of trade and other unethical practices that contributed to his company’s monopolistic control of the refining of oil in the United States and abroad.
In Taking on the Trust, Steve Weinberg emulates Tarbell’s biographical approach insofar as he regards the clash between Tarbell and Rockefeller as deeply rooted in their family backgrounds, the former deeply influenced by her entrepreneurial father and strong mother, the latter influenced by his mother’s religious convictions and his father’s deceitful business practices.
Both were innovators....
(The entire section is 1684 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
The Boston Globe, April 3, 2008, p. C7.
The Christian Science Monitor, April 22, 2008, p. 17.
Columbia Journalism Review, March/April, 2008, p. 58.
Journalism History 34, no. 3 (Fall, 2008): 180.
Kirkus Reviews 75, no. 24 (December 15, 2007): 1288.
Library Journal 133, no. 2 (February 1, 2008): 84-85.
Publishers Weekly 254, no. 50 (December 17, 2007): 42.
St. Petersburg Times, March 7, 2008, p. 1E.
The Wall Street Journal 251, no. 73 (March 28, 2008): W5.
The Washington Post Book World, April 27, 2008, p. 8.
(The entire section is 55 words.)