The Driver By Garet Garrett


Here is a treasure in the history of the pro-capitalist novel. Garet Garrett, author of The People’s Pottage, tells the story of an upstart Wall Street speculator financier, Henry Galt, a shadowy figure who stays out of the limelight as much as possible until he unleashes a plan that had been years in the making.

Garrett has a way of illustrating just what it takes to be a businessman of this sort, and how his mind alone becomes the source of a fantastic revenue stream. But Galt’s success breeds trouble. The government conspires with envious competitors to regulate him using the Sherman Antitrust Act, calling him a monopolist who is exploiting the public.

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  •  B.K. Marcus

    The Driver by Garet Garrett

    The Driver by Garet Garrett is indeed a pro-capitalist novel, and Garrett manages to communicate that part of the story with passion and fascination, feelings that are contagious for the reader. What I was not expecting was the human story behind the economic history. The man telling the story is the calm at the center of the storm of human activity that surrounds him. When we meet the hero of the story — the great railroad capitalist, Henry Galt — we find in him the only other steady presence in the swirl of confusion that was turn-of-the-20th-century Wall Street. I don’t mean to suggest similarities between the two characters beyond that central complementary calmness; Galt is irritable, impatient with people, and far from charming in any mundane sense; the narrator is patient and sociable without being quite outgoing. He is also primarily an observer, whereas Galt is The Driver: the driver of the story and the driver, it turns out, of the American economy. The human side of the story is everything Galt fails to see, mostly concerning his family: an elderly mother, a socialite wife, and two daughters — one attractive but aloof and the other winsome and playful. Galt’s family suffers through their waxing and waning fortunes, and continues to suffer the anti-new-money social ostracism of Galt’s ultimate success. Galt is immune to society’s subtler punishments and he doesn’t have the moral imagination to understand why his family isn’t happy. Fortunately for him, they love him devotedly. And love, believe it or not, is the other driver of this book. It turns out to be a love story, or two or three love stories — between the narrator and (1) Henry Galt himself, (2) the Galt family, who come to adopt him slowly and quietly as one of their own, and (3) one of Galt’s daughters, for whom his feelings become more than fraternal. I highly recommend this novel, whether or not you care about economics or history. It is a very human story. The fact that you might finish it with a greater respect for the social benefits of speculation and entrepreneurship is merely an added bonus. Questions, comments, observations or elaborations? Either reply here or create a new discussion using the tag Library_the-driver

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