Italy had its banditti, Spain and Mexico their banditos. But when Americans sought a synonym for the clumsy “tycoon,” they reached all the way back to feudal France and medieval Germany to find the right word—baron.
Such is the case of the hard-nosed timber entrepreneur of Greg Gordon’s When Money Grew on Trees: A.B. Hammond and the Age of the Timber Baron. He was the product of his times, the post-Civil War years that Mark Twain, in a serious mood, called “The Gilded Age—of corruption. What makes this volume more valuable than a run-of-the-book stacks biography is that it serves as a nice guide to the often violent wheeling and dealing of Hammond’s heyday. –Richard Dillon, author of Wells Fargo Detective: A Biography of James B. Hume