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Diamond Jim Brady : Prince of the Gilded Age

ISBN: 978-0-471-22602-4
368 pages
July 2002
Diamond Jim Brady : Prince of the Gilded Age (0471226025) cover image

Description

Praise for H. Paul Jeffers

An Honest President: The Life and Presidencies of Grover Cleveland
"A well-written and timely book that reminds us of Grover Cleveland?s courage, commitment, and honesty at a time when these qualities seem so lacking in so much of American politics." ?James MacGregor Burns, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award

Colonel Roosevelt: Theodore Roosevelt Goes to War, 1879-1898
"A handsome narrative of a crucial period in the career of one of our country?s most colorful politicians." ?Publishers Weekly

Commissioner Roosevelt: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt and the New York City Police, 1895-1897
"A lively, entertaining, and well-researched portrait of a zealous reformer during the historic crusade that successfully launched his career in government." ?Publishers Weekly
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Table for One, Dinner for Twenty-five.

Make Them Like You.

The American Beauty.

Mr. First Nighter.

"Nell, I'm Rich!"

Ain't It Grand?

The Earth for Fifty Cents.

Sidewalks of New York.

Big Wheeler-Dealer.

I Can Always Start Over.

Rogues, Rascals, and Railroaders.

The Girl's a Lady.

"This Is Where I Live."

"Have You Got the Sauce?"

Farmer Jim.

Off to the Races.

Peacocks Parade.

"Oh, My Poor Jim."

"Why Spoil a Beautiful Friendship?"

"Big, Genial Diamond Jim Brady."

Notes and Sources.

Bibliography.

Index.
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Author Information

H. PAUL JEFFERS has written over twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including Commissioner Roosevelt and Colonel Roosevelt, both published by Wiley.
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Reviews

The story of an industrial giant of the Gilded Age who looms tall over the colorless tycoons of today, H. Paul Jeffers's rollicking account of the life and times of "Diamond" Jim Brady is one of the most entertaining historical business narratives in recent memory. Born in 1856 into an Irish immigrant family who ran a saloon on the Lower East side, Jim Brady had an early hunger for just about everything and the wherewithal to get it. At age 11, he went to work as a bellhop at the St. James Hotel, where the "genial, roly-poly blue-eyed Irish youth" quickly ingratiated himself with the hotel's visitors and promptly spent his ample tips on food. A frequent guest, John Toucey, who worked for Cornelius Vanderbilt's railroad empire, hired Brady at age 15; soon Brady worked his way up to railroad equipment salesman, encountering precious few who cold not be won over by his twinkle-eyed merriment, awesome generosity and garangtuan appetite for food. At a time when America was bursting at the seams with industrial expansion and new-found wealth, his expense reports were the stuff of legend; he celebrated each big sale by buying himself the best and gaudiest clothes and jewelry. But for all his larger-than-life boorishness, the man who emerges here is surprisingly cultured. For more than three decades, he never missed a Broadway opening; theater producers could tell where plays needed work simply by watching Jim's reaction in the front row. While Jeffers sometimes skimps on detailing how Jim amassed his fortunes--it isn't until late in the book we get a good accounting of his sales practices--the story of this symbol of America's Gilded Age is filled with such gusto and vigor that even hardcore business readers will be swept away. (Publishers Weekly, August 20, 2001)

Even if many Americans are not familiar with the story of Diamond Jim Brady, very likely the name still rings a bell. Prolific author Jeffers (e.g., An Honest President; Sal Mineo) fully develops this superb historical biography of one or more of the colorful characters in American history. Brady's story is a classic Horatio Alger tale of determined success. From his Irish immigrant roots in lower Manhattan, he eventually became renowned for his colossal eating, massive girth, and signature jewelry. Jeffer's spirited writing brings to life Brady's youth, his earl hard-working days bellhopping and selling railroad supplies during America's great rail expansion, his long-term relationship with Lillian Russell, and of course, those countless 14-course meals. Jeffers deftly weaves together intriguing stage-setting explanations of the age of the robber barons, the crash of 1893, and that unforgettable era of unbridled wealth for the few in 1890s New York. As this marvelous story reveals, Brady's lavish lifestyle embodies America's Gilded Age. Highly recommended for all libraries. -Dale Farris, Groves, TX (Library Journal, September 1, 2001)
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