by JUSTIN KAPLAN
380 pages. Simon & Schuster. $10.
In 1892, after two years of drifting round Europe's universities as an American student prince, Lincoln Steffens, 26, disembarked at the port of New York. He was greeted by an envelope from his father, a self-made Sacramento businessman and community pillar. It contained a terminal $100, a few Polonian sentences about theory at the expense of practice, and the advice: "Stay in New York and hustle."
Steffens did so with an ambition and energy that had not been apparent during a boyhood largely spent...