During the 40 years following the end of the Civil War, American per capita production and consumption grew rapidly, the population soared and the U.S. economy surged past Great Britain's-a radical transformation that Morris (Money, Greed, and Risk) chronicles through the lives of four protagonists: steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, oil king John D. Rockefeller, stock market and railroad wizard Jay Gould and financier J.P. Morgan. More an economic argument than an exposition of history or biography, Morris' volume analyzes long-term historical trends and their influence on modern affairs. The result is a fascinating revisionist interpretation in which Gould and Rockefeller come off better than conventional wisdom suggests, and Carnegie and Morgan worse. Readers without a strong grounding in economics may be challenged by Morris' analysis, but those better versed will be intrigued by his original angle on the robber barons. Agent, Tim Seldes.