The Murder of Jim Fisk for the Love of Josie Mansfield by H.W. Brands

The Murder of Jim Fisk for the Love of Josie Mansfield

Even before he was shot dead on the stairway of the tony Grand Central Hotel in 1872, financier James “Jubilee Jim” Fisk, Jr., was a notorious New York City figure. From his audacious attempt to corner the gold market in 1869 to his battle for control of the geographically crucial Erie Railroad, Fisk was a flamboyant exemplar of a new financial era marked by volatile fortunes and unprecedented greed and corruption. But it was his scandalously...

Details The Murder of Jim Fisk for the Love of Josie Mansfield

TitleThe Murder of Jim Fisk for the Love of Josie Mansfield
Release DateMay 31st, 2011
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Crime, True Crime, Mystery, North American Hi..., American History, Biography

Reviews The Murder of Jim Fisk for the Love of Josie Mansfield

  • Janet
    This is the kind of book that makes a reader pick up the TV remote.Subtitled A Tragedy of the Gilded Age the only real tragedy is that it resulted in this book. A clumsy retelling of the murder of Jim Fisk, railroad magnate and thug plumped up like a Thanksgiving Butterball with conjecture and hearsay. Josie Mansfield, his discarded mistress, provides color but it is in nonsensical bookended chapters. H.W. Brands took a fairly obscure historical ...
  • Jeffrey Bloomfield
    Mystery stories frequently deal with the murder or strange death of a prominent figure, and many of them deal with multi-millionaires. It is true that criminal history records the odd deaths of business tycoons: Sir Harry Oakes in the Bahamas in 1943 is one, as is Stanford White, the great Gilded Age architect of the "400" who was killed by Harry Thaw (the millionaire killer) over Thaw's wife Evelyn Nesbit ("the Girl in the Red Velvet Swing") ins...
  • Robert
    This is a great book. Whenever an author can transport you to a bygone time and insert you into it, then that is a great start. H.W. Brands is a great historian and this is a great book. He chronicles the murder of Jim Fisk, who was for his time of the richest and most powerful men in the post-civil war United States. The book is enjoyable, read well, and is well worth anyone's time.
  • Nightwitch
    Written in the present tense and structured like a true crime narrative rather than a work of history, this book was a fairly easy read but bogged down considerably towards the end, which was essentially a present-tense recap of various court proceedings. And then this person testified, and they said that, tearfully. It's less than compelling. I really enjoy when these kinds of books have historical background - and this certainly had some, but s...
  • Zach
    Very interesting, concise book about a now, lesser known scandal. The book not only describes the death of the robber baron Jim Fisk and Fisk's career as a high profile speculator in the gold market and his battles with Cornelius Vanderbilt over the Erie railroad, but also it describes a changed America following the Civil War, much of which stays with us today from economic speculation to the movement from subsistence farming to everything depen...
  • Plantgrrl
    This book reads quickly and has a good way of making the storyline flow together as you will find in the best historical narratives (like "Seabiscuit" or "A Perfect Storm"). It does an excellent job of describing the persons involved and their motivations without delving into the quagmire of speculation too much or getting bogged down in the minutia of the case and case laws. Excellent.
  • Barb
    This scandalous story was told using language common to its time, the 1860's-1870's, which made it less interesting for me than I thought it would be. I do not regret having read it, especially since it's quite short. The most interesting points relate to the power brokers of the time including Vanderbilt.
  • Jeramey
    Really enjoyed it, but I knew who Jim Fisk was going into the book. I would think if you have some vague idea of who he was, you'll enjoy this book. I could have used a bit more on his relationships with Gould, Tweed, Vanderbilt, and Tweed.Fun quick history read on the Gilded Age in New York.
  • Penny
    The first half of the book was a really quick read, but the part for the trial seemed to bog down a bit. I don't regret any of the time I spent on it though.
  • KC
    The cover and title intrigued me, so I picked this book up at the library. I'd never heard of Jim Fisk or Josie Mansfield, but I enjoy reading about the Gilded Age and true crime stories interest me... Fisk was a wealthy financier who was notorious for shady dealings in the stock market and other ventures. Josie was his mistress -- until she met someone else.I liked Brands' writing style--he introduces the major players and describes their financ...
  • John O'reilly
    Breezy and unusual tale of robber barons in the 1870s. Written almost as a newspaper style recount of a tawdry affair, murder of passion, and scandalous trial, Brands creates an entertaining and quick read. He is a very good writer and this is a vignette worthy of a read for social historians.
  • Katherine Addison
    Well-written and entertaining "popular history" account of the murder of Jim Fisk by the lover of one of his former mistresses. Not the place to go for in-depth analysis of anything, but gives a good portrait of the Gilded Age.
  • Kate
    Note for self: Eh, ok, did a decent job running through what happened to a Gilded Age player who got dumped by his "girl" and murdered by her new man. Didn't much care about any of the characters, which took away some of my interest.
  • Robin
    Alright historical true crime book.
  • Chris Doelle
    This was much better than I expected - an enthralling story. Full review -->
  • Angela
    Boring. This book was boring. The author does not bring any depth to any of the main figures in the book. Josie Mansfield is hardly a presence in this story. Jubilee Jim Fisk was a larger than life part of New York's gilded age,but that's lost in this book.
  • Todd
    I'm not exactly sure what I think of this. On the one hand, it's an interesting story; on the other hand, it's just ... strangely written. Maybe it's just me, but I find it disconcerting to read a history (biography) of events more than 100 years ago written in the present tense. I mean, even today's newspaper covering yesterday's events is written in the past tense. My guess is it's an attempt to convey an air excitement or immediacy to the stor...
  • Donna
    I was drawn to the words New York, tycoons and of course scandal. The cover says New York’s Gilded Age and some of its legendary players, including Boss William Tweed, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the railroad tycoon Jay Gould. Rich people behaving badly. This is a very small little slice of that world. A perfectly enjoyable tidbit for me!It fascinates me how the various financial markets were manipulated and still are. And even more fascinating h...
  • David
    I've always been fascinated by Fisk and Gould, and their battle with Commodore Vanderbilt over the Erie Railroad, especially their cross-river escape to New Jersey, where they owned the Legistlature. I did not know that Fisk was killed in a love triangle, and there were no less than three trials of the killer, Edward Stokes.This is a lively account of these events, which provides a lively picture of the rise of American predatory capitalism, the ...
  • Linda K
    Just an ok book showing that the lowly traits of greed, lust and power have always been around and cause people to do bad things. Jim Fisk was a greedy manipulator in New York City in 1868 and ended up murdered by one of the men who he had dealings with. It was more involved due to their both lusting after the same woman. In the end, after 3 trials, Fisk's killer was given only 4 years in prison. Interesting account of courtroom drama and questio...
  • Reid
    This was an entertaining read, a period piece of characters the likes of which America will never see again. I haven't read much on Fisk or most of the Gilded Age players, but Brands frames the context of the story well. The somewhat lavish writing seems to fit the story and characters. Nothing major here but stimulating.
  • Diana Duncan
    Just okay. There was way too much boring descriptions of testimony from the trials and not enough background information, especially on the murderer Stokes. I failed to see anything tragic about the 3 major participants. This did illuminate some of the greed and corruption of the era but I did not get much else out of it.
  • Marianne
    Interesting -- a somewhat short listen, very well narrated, about a character I knew nothing about and a time I know only vaguely...and more of Great Britain, than New York. It's a profile of the situation and the characters, rather than an in-depth understanding...but I believe it's glimpse into Fisk, and Mansfield, and the other people involved is definitely worth a look.
  • Beth
    This was fairly cut and dried without much mystery but that wasn't really the point. It was a good (enough) read. The most interesting elements I found were the system abuses and the public's blase' attitudes that happened before the murder. This covers a little Tammany Hall scandal and how Fisk and his co-conspirators tried to corner the gold market.
  • Rick
    I read a lot of history and I have always liked what I've read from H.W. Brands. This book, while interesting in places, seemed like kind of quick "throwaway" for him. Potentially interesting story about some characters on the fringes of history, but in the end there wasn't a lot there. It was a murder mystery actually. Probably wouldn't read it again, but it was ok.
  • Allison
    I like the idea of a shorter book about an event mostly lost to history, but for a book about an affair and murder, I had a hard time getting into this book. It is mostly a courtroom drama about characters I didn't care much about.
  • Alex Robinson
    Very quick read which paints and interesting portrait of life in NYC during the period but lacks the depth needed to make it a stand-out read. It reminds me of Rick Geary's excellent TREASURY OF VICTORIAN MURDERS series of comics, but without the visual flair.
  • Meg
    Was hoping for a narrative history in the vein of Erik Larson, but didn't get it. This was a bit on the drier side. The courtroom proceedings were especially dull. I've heard this wasn't his best work. I might give another one of his books a shot.
  • Glenn Garvie
    Not the sweeping historical epic in style of Erik Larsen, simply because the events, incidents and relationships involved are just not that interesting. Brands lifts far too many large chunks of direct quotations from letters and court records which are so verbose they drag down the narrative.