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Robber Baron The Life of Charles Tyson Yerkes by John Franch

Robber Baron The Life of Charles Tyson Yerkes


Robber Baron The Life of Charles Tyson Yerkes by John Franch

Standing alongside J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller, Charles Tyson Yerkes (1837-1905) was one of the most colorful and controversial public figures in nineteenth-century America. Robber Baron is the first biography of the streetcar magnate who was the mastermind behind Chicago's Loop Elevated and the London Underground and namesake of the University of Chicago's observatory. Yerkes also served as the inspiration for Frank Cowperwood, the ruthless protagonist of Theodore Dreiser's Trilogy of Desire: The Financier, The Titan, and The Stoic. Despite various philanthropic efforts, Yerkes and his unscrupulous tactics were despised by the press and public, and he left Chicago a bitter man. John Franch has drawn upon every available source to tell the complete story of a man desperate to leave a lasting impression on his world. While Yerkes's enduring public works testify to his success, Robber Baron uncovers the cost of this boundless ambition.


The biography that this rich subject deserves--Railroad History Robber Baron is a welcome addition to the surprisingly small shelf of full-length biographies of Chicago's storied entrepreneurs and can be read for profit by anyone intrigued by one of the most notorious of the men to have built the material foundations on which the city's prosperity has come to rest. --Chicago Tribune A superb biography: The research is thorough, the prose is clear, the narrative is compelling and the judgments are fair.--Wall Street Journal

About the Author

John Franch is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in scholarly and popular publications, including Sky and Telescope, Chicago History, and the Illinois Historical Journal.

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Book Info

Publication date

10th January 2008


John Franch

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University of Illinois Press


384 pages


Biography: general



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