Brands is an outstanding historian and author, and the past books I have read I have thoroughly enjoyed. This book felt flat, a little disjointed and unstructured in relation to his past books.
The summary I read before ordering i felt indicated that there would be an in-depth analysis of Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie and other men who helped shape the time in American history. This was in fact not the case. Too much of the book was spent skirting around these men and their impact on American finance. I appreciate the stories Brands inserted that showed the impact the “barons of steel, rail, and finance” had on individuals but too much time was spent on that than on what I felt should have been the foundation of the book - the men who created and grew the “American Colossus” of the late 19th century.
His use of decades, years and months as the divisions for sections and chapters allowed continuity to the story he was telling. That did make it a much more enjoyable read. He did introduce some essential characters directly related to the “barons” that I felt could have been fleshed out in greater detail simply because of the influence they had with the principals.
Overall, it was an interesting book but I do not believe it to be one of Brands’ best.