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Ida Tarbell

The History of the Standard Oil Company

Cleveland oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller formed the Standard Oil Company of Ohio in 1870. Over the next four decades, Rockefeller turned his company into a behemoth, systemically driving his competitors out of business or buying them outright. His vast fortune made him one of the nation's most powerful men, but his private empire was nearly undone by the tireless journalism of a single, determined woman. Published in 1904, Ida Tarbell's The History of the Standard Oil Company exposed Rockefeller's monopolistic tactics to the public, eventually resulting in the company's dismantling in 1911. Yet Tarbell's work is more than simply a monumental piece of reporting; it is a deft, engrossing portrait of business in America—both its virtues and excesses.
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2018

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