Friday, February 18, 2022

Library Journal Review of Greed in the Gilded Age

Hazelgrove (Sally Rand: American Sex Symbol) chronicles the life and crimes of Cassie Chadwick, who, during the Gilded Age, scammed bankers out of millions of dollars, causing one bank failure and leading to the death of the head of a bank. Chadwick convinced prominent bankers, attorneys, and a reverend that she was the illegitimate daughter of industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie; she even dropped by Carnegie's home to pretend to retrieve promissory notes. When her scam came to light, she was prosecuted; the ensuing trial generated so much press that Carnegie himself sat in to observe. Hazelgrove vividly sets the scene, drawing intriguing parallels and contrasts between Carnegie and Chadwick—Carnegie ruthlessly punished striking workers who were protesting unsafe working conditions, while Chadwick broke the law in the pursuit of wealth, yet only Chadwick was held accountable. The delightfully sensationalist writing ("questions that rained down like nails into his soul") evokes the yellow journalism of the era. VERDICT Readers curious about the Gilded Age or who enjoy stories of con artists will appreciate Hazelgrove's lively tale of a most ambitious grifter.—Karen Sandlin Silverman Library Journal

Books by William Hazelgrove