The Marshall Fields: The Evolution of an American Business Dynasty

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9780471024934: The Marshall Fields: The Evolution of an American Business Dynasty

A classic American success story with a twist

Like J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie, Marshall Field was one of the overlords of triumphant capitalism in the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century. However, his phenomenal wealth and generous philanthropy masked a disastrous personal life. Deserted by his wife and alienated from his children, the founder of the Field dynasty left a legacy of immense wealth and misery to match.

The Marshall Fields recounts the classic tale of Field s spectacular success as well as the tragic story of a man who, while making millions by knowing what women wanted, had no inkling of his own wife s emotional needs. This revealing account follows the next five generations of the Field family, concentrating on the most important and controversial figures in each generation. What emerges is a startling saga of money, madness, and mystery.

From the son who may have been shot by a chorus girl to the great-great grandson who used his millions to create Hollywood fantasies, Field s descendants have caromed wildly between rebellion and folly. Their story offers a new and penetrating take on wealth, success, and the nightmare that often accompanies the American dream.

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From the Inside Flap:

At a time when the average American earned $500 a year, Marshall Field enjoyed a tidy annual income of $40 million. Unlike his robber-baron contemporaries, however, Field was the enlightened prince of the Gilded Age. Always looking toward the future, he built his department store empire on a solid foundation of quality, customer service, and a hard-earned reputation for honesty and good character. His attempts to secure the future of his family and his fortune were less successful.

The Marshall Fields follows this terse and industrious young farm boy’s career as he learns how to make millions by knowing what women want. It reveals the tactics and innovations that enabled Field to keep his business growing while many around him succumbed to the ravages of the Chicago fire, bank panics, and constant, fierce competition. But Field’s phenomenal success came at a high price.

Noted biographer Axel Madsen creates a moving portrait of an aging and lonely tycoon whose estranged wife departed for Europe and may have died a drug addict; whose dissolute son may have committed suicide or been shot by a floozy; and whose iron-clad will was designed to keep his immense fortune intact for at least four generations.

Armed with this enormous wealth, the succeeding Field generations caromed wildly between rebellion and folly, haunted by a palpable sense of alienation and a deep fear of the hereditary insanity that led many family members to suicide or to commitment in mental institutions. You’ll meet the jazz-age playboy who suffered that peculiar kind of public contempt reserved for idealists with money, the diligent businessman who tried to expand the family fortune, and the contentious half-brothers who finally managed to dissolve it.

This multigenerational saga of money, madness, and mystery tells a Jekyll-and-Hyde story of American capitalism–a tale of drive and nerve and moral stumbles. Sometimes shocking, often absurd, and always absorbing reading, The Marshall Fields offers a rare and unforgettably intimate look at the glorious and tragic history of one of America’s most venerable business families.

About the Author:

AXEL MADSEN has written sixteen biographies, including The Deal Maker: How William C. Durant Made General Motors and John Jacob Astor: America's First Multimillionaire (both from Wiley). His other books include Chanel: A Woman of Her Own and Gloria and Joe: The Star-Crossed Love Affair of Gloria Swanson and Joe Kennedy. Madsen lives in Los Angeles.

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Book Description John Wiley and Sons Ltd, United States, 2002. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A classic American success story with a twist Like J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie, Marshall Field was one of the overlords of triumphant capitalism in the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century. However, his phenomenal wealth and generous philanthropy masked a disastrous personal life. Deserted by his wife and alienated from his children, the founder of the Field dynasty left a legacy of immense wealth and misery to match. The Marshall Fields recounts the classic tale of Field s spectacular success as well as the tragic story of a man who, while making millions by knowing what women wanted, had no inkling of his own wife s emotional needs. This revealing account follows the next five generations of the Field family, concentrating on the most important and controversial figures in each generation. What emerges is a startling saga of money, madness, and mystery. From the son who may have been shot by a chorus girl to the great-great grandson who used his millions to create Hollywood fantasies, Field s descendants have caromed wildly between rebellion and folly. Their story offers a new and penetrating take on wealth, success, and the nightmare that often accompanies the American dream. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780471024934

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Book Description John Wiley and Sons Ltd, United States, 2002. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A classic American success story with a twist Like J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie, Marshall Field was one of the overlords of triumphant capitalism in the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century. However, his phenomenal wealth and generous philanthropy masked a disastrous personal life. Deserted by his wife and alienated from his children, the founder of the Field dynasty left a legacy of immense wealth and misery to match. The Marshall Fields recounts the classic tale of Field s spectacular success as well as the tragic story of a man who, while making millions by knowing what women wanted, had no inkling of his own wife s emotional needs. This revealing account follows the next five generations of the Field family, concentrating on the most important and controversial figures in each generation. What emerges is a startling saga of money, madness, and mystery. From the son who may have been shot by a chorus girl to the great-great grandson who used his millions to create Hollywood fantasies, Field s descendants have caromed wildly between rebellion and folly. Their story offers a new and penetrating take on wealth, success, and the nightmare that often accompanies the American dream. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780471024934

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