Monday, November 18, 2019

Roland De Wolk's "American Disruptor"

Roland De Wolk is a U.C. Berkeley educated historian who left academia for a career in journalism, then returned to teach at a San Francisco Bay Area university as an adjunct while retaining his prize-winning investigative reporting work.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, American Disruptor: The Scandalous Life of Leland Stanford, and reported the following:
Page 99 of American Disruptor is a lucid, cogent explanation of the federal government’s ridiculously generous terms on loaning Stanford’s private company what today would be billions of dollars to build the transcontinental railroad – Stanford living a life on those dollars more opulent than maharajas – soon afterwards said he shouldn’t have to pay back.

There is a section break and then a brief narrative on the beginnings of the construction from Sacramento and into the Sierra Nevada.

Since there are some 300 pages total to American Disruptor, having read one page, be it page 99 or any other, you would mostly likely get .3 percent of the work’s content.

Stylistically, one might get a bit more. Let’s be generous and suggest 5 percent.

Page 99 is, as are (hopefully) all the pages, important as it propels the story forward in both important and interesting information and in clean, even elegant, prose. The extraordinarily lavish government seed money for the private enterprise is very much part of the story, as are the terms for Congress’ munificent disposal of hard-earned taxpayer money. This is vital to the deeply documented story of exploitation and abuse of that generosity.
Visit Roland De Wolk's website.

--Marshal Zeringue