Mar 24 • 50M

Susan Berfield | Podcast

Author, 'The Hour of Fate: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Battle to Transform American Capitalism'

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The Serve to Lead podcast focuses on today’s extraordinary leadership opportunities in business, government, and politics. In a time of intense polarization, this includes advancing our shared American identity and narrative. James Strock is an independent writer, speaker, entrepreneur, lawyer, and reformer. His most recent book is 'Serve to Lead 2.0: 21st Century Leaders Manual.' Strock writes ‘The Next Nationalism’ at Substack.
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A riveting narrative of Wall Street buccaneering, political intrigue, and two of American history’s most colossal characters, struggling for mastery in an era of social upheaval and rampant inequality.


At the turn of a new century, the United States is in transition. Its financial and economic systems are being disrupted, amid cultural turmoil and political division. The periodic emergence of oligarchic power in the American political economy is occurring yet again.

Such sentiments were front-and-center at the turn of the twentieth century, as they are today.

In this episode of the Serve to Lead Podcast, journalist and author Susan Berfield shares the history and outlines the lessons from her highly readable, well-received book, The Hour of Fate: Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and the Battle to Transform American Capitalism. It will be released in paperback in May 2022.

Berfield brings history to life through her focus on two titanic personalities: President Theodore Roosevelt and financier J.P. Morgan. The interaction of their lives and work illuminates significant trends and challenges that remain familiar and have acquired renewed urgency.

Representative Reviews

The Washington Post:

Wonderfully detailed . . . [Berfield’s] story is about the past but also very much about the present, as our own Gilded Age raises old questions about inequality, plutocracy and what Roosevelt once called ‘that most dangerous of all classes, the wealthy criminal class’ . . . The book may make you both sad and mad, because it serves as a poignant, painful reminder of what a real leader does.

The New York Journal of Books:

A tale of greed, power, and accountability, an epic story of a clash of titans, one a political dynamo, the other unparalleled in business savvy. Out of their struggle, a new nation emerged, one that could flex its muscles and cause private enterprise to shudder, instead of the other way around as it had been before. . . Today, as the United States barrels its way into the 21st century, with business behemoths like Amazon and Apple treading in the footsteps of Morgan's Northern Securities, one can only wonder when and where the next trust buster will arise.

About the Author

Susan Berfield writes investigative and feature stories for Bloomberg Businessweek and Bloomberg News. Most recently, she's examined the dangers of generic drugs and the flaws in our recall system. She's revealed a company's years-long effort to misinform residents and discredit activists seeking to remove nuclear waste from a Superfund site outside St. Louis. Several months later, the Environmental Protection Agency reversed an earlier decision and demanded the company do so. Using confidential documents, she exposed how Walmart spies on its workers to prevent them from organizing. And she helped uncover a con man who talked a small Missouri town out of millions and was later convicted of fraud.

She's won awards from the Newswomen's Club of New York, the New York Press Club, the American Society of Business Publication Editors, and the Education Writers' Association. She contributes to the Pay Check, named the diversity and inclusion podcast of 2019 by Adweek. A collaboration with WNYC about the secretive family behind the largest mall in the country was a Loeb finalist in 2017. Her story about honey smugglers was the basis for an episode of the documentary series Rotten, which premiered on Netflix in 2018. She’s appeared on National Public Radio and PBS NewsHour.

Before joining Businessweek, she was a senior writer at Asiaweek in Hong Kong, where her story, "Ten Days that Shook Indonesia," won the Society of Asian Publishers’ Reporting Award and the Hong Kong Human Rights Press Award.

She earned a master’s degree at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, where she was a Zuckerman Fellow. Her undergraduate degree is from Brown University; after graduating, she co-directed a documentary in India funded by Brown's Arnold Fellowship.


Please note that the Serve to Lead Podcast has recently moved to Substack (and continues to repopulate in updated settings). It can be accessed in the usual formats, including:

Apple Podcasts | Amazon Audible | Amazon Music | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Podchaser | Podnews


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Image Credits: susanberfield.com