Light-fingered Gentry (Review)

Light-fingered Gentry (Review)

his this was a pot-boiler from 1907, a real eye opener that starts with an uncomfortable couple meeting in a park and discussing how they should get a divorce (which really would have stunned a reader back then (and not in these times when the President of the United States has had three of them)).

The story shifts to a retirement party for outgoing insurance company president Shotwell organized by one Fosdick, who is counting up how much everything cost (paid for by the shareholders and policyholders, of course), and how he reflects on the magnificence as “glory-just as, when he bought for a large sum a picture with a famous name to it, he showed himself to be greater than the painter”. Yes, Fosdick is a true bastard, one who has made himself rich as a financier, the kingmaker behind the massive institution of O.A.D. And there, at his other side, is Armstrong, the picked presidential successor to Shotwell and a convenient patsy to control, use, and discard (as he had poor Shotwell). But Armstrong gets a glance at Shotwell’s prepared speech, the one the ex-president was going to give, the one damning Fosdick as a cur and pitying Armstrong for the trap he was now in. And that sets the ball rolling.

I really liked Light-fingered Gentry. The writer, David Graham Phillips, was a rabble-rouser of my own strip, an author who makes social injustice and the sordid habits of the rich his own preserve. You gotta love damnations like…

He discovered that there were two ways to enormous wealth—by seizing an accumulation amassed by someone else; by devising a trap that would deceive or compel a multitude of people to contribute each his mite of a few dimes or dollars.

It’s a book that centers on greed and privilege, of corruption and pure evil, all while a brother and sister are parted by temptation, marriages go badly, fortunes are lost, great men are ruined and the financial world teeters in the throes of takeover. It was a great page-burner which you can pull down on your reader for free, right HERE.

Yup. A taste of the pre-World War, pre-depression world where money flowed like wine, the rich didn’t give a flying flug, and the poor simmered in their resentments.

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