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Month: January 2017

Source Evaluation #3

A Fierce Discontent by Michael E. McGerr provides a flowing narrative of the progressive shifts occurring both economically, culturally and politically. Through multiple eyes and stories, McGerr uses different perspectives to amplify themes beginning to grow in the American subconscious. Due to it’s story-like narrative surrounding historical figures such as Roosevelt, E.A. Ross and Jane Adams, it is more difficult to analyze specific pieces of the book at a time. However, this does allow for a broader understanding of the themes presented in the writing.  Although I have not completed the almost 400-page book yet, already I have come across terms such as Social Darwinism and muckrakers. These factors so far are building blocks to my understanding of the cause and effect of the progressive moment. The political reform and social activism inspired by the movement carried several interesting levels and themes. The combination of fear and hope found an especially strong foothold in the middle class, despite a relatively large amount of influence in the nation. The effects detailed in McGerr’s A Fierce Discontent exude racism and fear of unrestricted immigration. Additionally, the fear of large corporate businesses which is where my main focus of white collar crime will tie in. However, the hope inspire changes in the nation that transformed into a political movement. Additionally, many of these worries were intertwined in various ways that I hope to continue to explore and understand further as I progress farther towards the end of the book. The only downfall of A Fierce Discontent is what seems to be a single story told documenting those partaking and promoting the progressive movement, which were generally male, native-born, middle class americans. I’d also like to find source documenting a different perspective such as minorities or different classes in the changing nation.

McGerr, Michael E. A fierce discontent: the rise and fall of the Progressive movement in America, 1870-1920. New York: Free Press, 2003. Print.


Source Evaluation #2

My second source evaluation is Monopolies in America: Empire Builders and Their Enemies from Jay Gould to Bill Gates by Charles R. Geisst, specifically chapter 3 (page 77) which focuses on the 1920-1930 era. Charles R. Geisst was the first Chair in business at Manhattan College, a professor of global economics and finance and the author of 19 books. The chapter I want to focus on specifically includes many themes I want to explore further in my research of the topic. Firstly was the financial trends in American culture at the time, where the people were in the mood to spend and spend in what appeared to be a time of great prosperity while in reality, the wages of the average worker were dropping. One example the book gives (page 93) is that of the F. W. Woolworth Company which reported profit margins of 20% but in reality was lowering the wages of salesgirls in their stores. These trends of false confidence in the economy are definitely a thread I want to explore further. Additionally, xenophobia and racism was on the rise nationally. The numerous divisions and diversion distracted the country from mergers were growing at an unprecedented rate. An additional source I looked at to examine the economics in the 1920’s was from the Economic History Association. The article by Gene Smiley from Marquette University provides many useful charts and graphics that give insight to the the economic trends of the time and their cultural influence. These two sources should help me learn specifically about the connections between the financial and cultural shaping of America during the 1920’s.


Geisst, Charles R. Monopolies in America: empire builders and their enemies, from Jay Gould to Bill Gates. Oxford: Oxford U Press, 2000. Print.

Smiley, Gene. “The U.S. Economy in the 1920s.” EHnet. Economic History Association, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2017.

Source Evaluation

61jant5wm9l-_sx323_bo1204203200_   My first two sources for evaluation start at the beginning of my topic, in fact, at the birth of a common nickname “Ponzi,” or a ponzi scheme. Charles Ponzi, or Carlo Ponci or Charles P. Bianchi was born in 1882 and grew to be the man whose name was associated with fraudulent business schemes. Two sources documenting his life are both a book and a book talk by Mitchell Zuckoff. Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend. In his book, Mitchell Zuckoff dissects the ‘financial alchemy’ that raked in millions of dollars for Charles Ponzi. His book talk of about an hour in length and allows insight to Zuckoff as he answers questions and discusses not only the blue print and operations of fraudulent transactions on a large scale, but also the fallibility of human nature. Zuckoff’s skills as an orator as well as an author are what helped me select these sources in my initial research. A large part of his book discusses the nature and conscience of Charles Ponzi, and how initially he believed his plan was both legal and possible. He also examines another interesting facet as I explore my topic, which explores the growth of small lies into larger ones in the specific area of finances. In the case of Charles Ponzi, his first lie was a false check. Interestingly enough, he was caught and jailed but still continued concocting schemes later on. This brings me to another facet for exploration: consequences for ‘victimless crimes’ such as fraud, compared to those of a physical theft or break in. Charles Ponzi himself has a draw as quite a unique character, an Italian immigrant who spoke French, English and Italian who charmed his way into a job at a bank and almost fifteen years later was quoted saying he gave “the best show ever staged.”



Zuckoff, Mitchell. Ponzi’s scheme: the true story of a financial legend. New York: Random House, 2005. Print.

TheFilmArchives. “The Ultimate Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Charles Ponzi & the True Story of a Financial Legend (2005) The Film Archives .” YouTube. YouTube, 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 07 Jan. 2017. <>.