Dark Genius of Wall Street, by Edward J. Renehan, Jr. explores “the misunderstood life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons.”
In this book review, I’ll tell you all about The Dark Genius of Wall Street. So that you can decide if this is the right investor biography for you. Sound good?
So you might be wondering, how did I come across this book? Well, last summer, a commenter on my YouTube Channel recommended a book about The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt. In that awesome biography, you meet Jay Gould from the perspective of camp Vanderbilt. And I was intrigued.
So naturally, I was curious when I came across this retrospective that portrays Jay Gould starkly different from the villain Vanderbilt’s biographer made him out to be. And in that regard, the book didn’t disappoint. Now let me tell you more about the king of the robber barons.
A Summary of The Dark Genius of Wall Street:
Dark Genius of Wall Street is a biography of Jay Gould. It starts out in the Catskills, where Jay was born. And like any good biography, the book spends a couple of chapters speculating and exploring the influences that may have shaped young Gould in his early years. Since Gould was growing up in the 1800’s, these anecdotes of how he got started in the tannery business were fascinating.
From there, the book examines Gould’s early ambitions in business. You see how he got his start, surveying the hills of his county and trying to sell maps. It wasn’t exactly easy going. But Gould’s industrial efforts prevailed. And he managed to snowball his earnings at a rather respectable rate.
Eventually Gould moves to Manhattan, and more specifically, Wall Street. From there, he hatches one strategy after the other to methodically build his empire. And this is where the stories really get interesting. From his daring endeavours with Daniel Drew, to his clashes with Carnegie, Gould made an impression on early America.
I can’t do the stories justice, so I’ll leave it to you to read more for yourself in The Dark Genius of Wall Street. But first, let me tell you my favourite part.
The Best Part of The Dark Genius of Wall Street:
Dark Genius of Wall Street is a really enjoyable read. At around 350 pages, it actually comes in pretty short for a biography. But let me tell you the best part.
I think the aspect of this book that I liked best, is that it challenges the conventional perception of Jay Gould. The book does a good job drawing on primary sources and pointing out factual inaccuracies in the accepted folklore about Gould. I appreciated this perspective, because at the same time the author doesn’t hold any illusions about Gould’s true intentions.
The reason I like this approach is because it helps you more accurately appreciate the conquests of this epic businessman. Does that make sense? Good.
And one more thing…
Another reason I like reading biographies is how they often reinforce important lessons. For example, The Dark Genius of Wall Street makes it abundantly clear that by no means did Jay Gould have an easy childhood. He wasn’t spoon-fed success. Instead, he hustled, showed initiative and made things happen for himself. Personally, I always find this to be validating.
On a darker note, it’s also insightful to see that almost invariably, the legacies of these one time kings don’t last. In the case of Gould, as in Vanderbilt, their children and grandchildren for the most part squandered their fortunes. It goes to show, you have to work hard to earn it. And that’s the main lesson from these kind of biographies. The Dark Genius of Wall Street was just a particularly exciting one to read about.
So by now, you should be getting a good picture of what The Dark Genius of Wall Street is all about, right? Then let’s draw this thing to a close.
The Dark Genius of Wall Street – The Final Word:
The Dark Genius of Wall Street is a fascinating financial biography about one of Wall Street’s most mysterious men. For that reason alone, I think it’s worth buying Dark Genius of Wall Street on Amazon.
Although if you still aren’t convinced, you’re welcome to watch the video book review below to help you get even more insight into the exceptional read.