Wall Street: no other place on earth is so singularly identified with money and the power of money. And no other American institution has inspired such deep moral, cultural, and political ambivalence. Is the Street an unbreachable bulwark defending commercial order? Or is it a center of mad ambition?
This book recounts the colorful history of America’s love-hate relationship with Wall Street. Steve Fraser frames his fascinating analysis around the roles of four iconic Wall Street types—the aristocrat, the confidence man, the hero, and the immoralist—all recurring figures who yield surprising insights about how the nation has wrestled, and still wrestles, with fundamental questions of wealth and work, democracy and elitism, greed and salvation. Spanning the years from the first Wall Street panic of 1792 to the dot.com bubble-and-bust and Enron scandals of our own time, the book is full of stories and portraits of such larger-than-life figures as J. P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Michael Milken. Fraser considers the conflicting attitudes of ordinary Americans toward the Street and concludes with a brief rumination on the recent notion of Wall Street as a haven for Everyman.
Steve Fraser is co-founder of the American Empire Project and Editor-at-Large of the journal New Labor Forum. He is the author of Every Man a Speculator, A History of Wall Street in American Life, and most recently co-editor of Ruling America: A History of Wealth and Power in a Democracy.