Compared with Burton Hersh's effusions on the same subject (above),
Koskoff's history of the Mellons has the great merit of being
intelligible. It is also bland, devoid of context or focus or
evidence of expertise, and only intermittently interesting. If you
want to know how founding-father Thomas Mellon raised his sons to
succeed in business; how, as investment-bankers, they bought into
promising firms and took them over; how Andrew Mellon performed as
Secretary of the Treasury; and how the third generation has enjoyed
the fortune and abandoned the empire - well, Koskoff will tell you,
but he won't (like a Josephson, a Myers, a Lundberg) make you itch
to find out, or, when he's through, persuade you that you've
learned anything of importance. One problem is that the Mellons
were not entrepreneurs, and Koskoff is not sufficiently versed in
business dealings or sufficiently vivid a writer to make their
financial strategies come alive; and since he is generally
accepting, his account has neither a critical edge nor the weight
of thought. He is best - because most forthright - on "the myth of
the Mellon machine" in Pennsylvania politics; generous, though
frank, in assessing Treasury Secretary Mellon's controversial tax
and other fiscal policies; and responsible, if unexciting, when
dealing with the odd penchants of Mellon descendants. The one who
emerges as worth attention is
aristocrat/philanthropist/lung-patient Paul Mellon ("What this
country needs is a good five-cent reverie"), founder of the
Bollingen Foundation and, most recently, of the magisterial Yale
Center for British Art. But, as Koskoff recognizes, the Mellons
have long since ceased to act as a family, in business or out; if
the value of rounding them up now is dubious, at least the job is
done. (Kirkus Reviews)
|Country of origin:
David E Koskoff
||230 x 150mm (L x W)
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