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Taking on the Trust: The Epic Battle of Ida Tarbell and John D. Rockefeller

Weinberg, Steve Author

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How a female investigative journalist brought down the world’s greatest tycoon and broke up the Standard Oil monopoly.

Long before the rise of mega-corporations like Wal-Mart and Microsoft, Standard Oil controlled the oil industry with a monopolistic force unprecedented in American business history. Undaunted by the ruthless power of its owner, John D. Rockefeller (1839–1937), a fearless and ambitious reporter named Ida Minerva Tarbell (1857–1944) confronted the company known simply as “The Trust.” Through her peerless fact gathering and devastating prose, Tarbell, a muckraking reporter at McClure’s magazine, pioneered the new practice of investigative journalism. Her shocking discoveries about Standard Oil and Rockefeller led, inexorably, to a dramatic confrontation during the opening decade of the twentieth century that culminated in the landmark 1911 Supreme Court antitrust decision breaking up the monopolies and forever altering the landscape of modern American industry. Based on extensive research in the Tarbell and Rockefeller archives, Taking on the Trust is a vivid and dramatic history of the Progressive Era with powerful resonance for the first decades of the twenty-first century.

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About the Author:

The author of six books, Steve Weinberg has been a longtime board member of the National Book Critics Circle and currently teaches investigative journalism at the University of Missouri Journalism School. He lives in Columbia, Missouri.

From AudioFile:

As John D. Rockefeller builds his fortune in the oil industry that eventually becomes Standard Oil, journalist Ida Tarbell, his nemesis, investigates his business tactics. Her goal is to bust the trust that controls Standard Oil and its various subsidiaries. Pam Ward narrates this history of the oil industry, paying careful attention to the details laid out in Weinberg's research. Ward's evenly paced narration elucidates each event, each twist of fate. Point by point, event by event, her no-nonsense performance invokes the tenacity of Rockefeller, who fights to keep his empire, and Tarbell, who is determined to bring competition into the marketplace. Ward effortlessly holds the listener's attention with her straightforward delivery of Weinberg's complex tapestry of history and biography. M.B.K. © AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine

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