The Battle to Transform American Capitalism...

A riveting narrative of Wall Street buccaneering, political intrigue, and two of American history’s most colossal characters, struggling for mastery in an era of social upheaval and rampant inequality.

 

It seemed like no force in the world could slow J. P. Morgan’s drive to power. In the summer of 1901, the financier was assembling his next mega-deal: Northern Securities, an enterprise that would affirm his dominance in America’s most important industry―the railroads.

 

Then, a bullet from an anarchist’s gun put an end to the business-friendly presidency of William McKinley. A new chief executive bounded into office: Theodore Roosevelt. He was convinced that as big business got bigger, the government had to check the influence of the wealthiest or the country would inch ever closer to collapse. By March 1902, battle lines were drawn: the government sued Northern Securities for antitrust violations. But as the case ramped up, the coal miners’ union went on strike and the anthracite pits that fueled Morgan’s trains and heated the homes of Roosevelt’s citizens went silent. With millions of dollars on the line, winter bearing down, and revolution in the air, it was a crisis that neither man alone could solve.

Richly detailed and propulsively told, The Hour of Fate is the gripping story of a banker and a president thrown together in the crucible of national emergency even as they fought in court. The outcome of the strike and the case would change the course of our history. Today, as the country again asks whether saving democracy means taming capital, the lessons of Roosevelt and Morgan’s time are more urgent than ever.

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Comments from early readers:

David K. Randall, New York Times bestselling author of Black Death at the Golden Gate and The King and the Queen of Malibu.

“Susan Berfield has written the rare book that makes you look at both the past and present in a new light. Deeply researched and beautifully written, The Hour of Fate tells the gripping tale of how a clash between the most powerful force in the history of Wall Street and a young, popular president set the stage for our current debates over the role and limits of wealth in a democracy.“

Adam Winkler, author of We the Corporations

“The Hour of Fate is narrative nonfiction at its best. Susan Berfield brings to life the conflict between two of America's most powerful men, J.P. Morgan and Theodore Roosevelt, and reveals how their battle over democracy and corporate power reshaped America.”

Scott Miller, author of The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century

“Susan Berfield has captured a critical moment in American history with a ripping good yarn. Written with verve and a perceptive eye for detail, The Hour of Fate artfully brings to life two of our nation’s most celebrated personalities, caught in an astonishing drama even larger than themselves. It is impossible to read Berfield’s fast-paced and entertaining account of events a century ago without gaining deeper insight into the momentous events we wrestle with today.“

Philip Dray, author of At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America, winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

"The Gilded Age meets the Progressive Era head-on in Susan Berfield’s gripping account of the Northern Securities case and of the 1902 coal famine crisis, when unlikely allies J.P. Morgan and Theodore Roosevelt joined forces against a looming winter without warmth or fuel. Well-researched and expertly told, this story of haves and have-nots – and a country at the precipice – speaks to our own precarious times, and will fascinate readers of financial and labor history."

Read the prologue