Blessed Barons

Rapacious? Sure. But 19th century titans Carnegie, Rockefeller and Morgan set the stage for the empire builders of the 20th

Staring out from their photographs, they are the archetypal tycoons: one a steely-eyed Scot with a spade-shaped white beard; another a craggy, Ichabod Crane look-alike; the third a fat cat in striped pants with a watch chain strung across an ample paunch.

Today they have the look of fossilized reactionaries, but these turn-of-the-century titans were men who lived in booming, anarchic times and thrived on them. The Gilded Age was a turbulent period of unfettered capitalism and unfathomable wealth for them and their peers--an environment free of income tax, meddling regulators and other curbs on the animal spirits of freewheeling...

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