I have not read this book but it is the first in the American Chronicles series...Volume One: 1901-1910.
It looks like a fascinating read!
From Publishers Weekly
Prolific Vaughan ( The Power and the Pride ), who writes under his own name and under 25 pen names, begins his first installment of the American Chronicles series with the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. At the core is a burgeoning university in St. Louis and a quartet of seniors, the young black man who befriends one of these white men at school, and the daughter of the university's president. Vaughan's prose style is mechanical and unexceptional, his plotting alternately obvious and awkward. For example, one of the quartet dies of yellow fever while covering the building of the Panama Canal, but his death is never seen, only reported by telegram. To his credit, Vaughan attempts to impose a somewhat anachronistic progressive sensibility on the racial issues raised by the presence of several black characters in a world dominated by Jim Crow laws and the blatant racism of turn-of-the-century America, and his handling of the Jewish member of the college quartet is sympathetic if clumsy. Famous historical figures--Buffalo Bill Cody, Theodore Roosevelt, J. P. Morgan--flit in and out of this quick read that rises to moments of genuine emotional power, albeit few and far between.
Robert Vaughan, the author, has a real sense of history and portrays the dawn of the 20th century very vividly in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this first volume in the series. I love a book like this that really makes you feel as if you were right there, in the era, and participating in the observation of the time and its customs. You won't be sorry if you read it. I now have read 8 of the books in this series and have loved them all. It is like re-living my life through the events in the 20th century. I recommend the whole series.All of the books in the series are now listed on paperack. They are all excellent. Genny
This is the first book in a series that will follow the Canfield family and associated friends from Jefferson College (soon to be University) in St Louis, Missouri.
It opens with the 1904 Worlds Fair in St Louis and the graduation of the quad quad from Jefferson College. The quad quad is composed of Robert (Bob) Canfield, Terry Perkins, JP Winthrop and David Gelbman. Each of them is about to go their separate ways in the world.
Bob is returning to his familys land in the boot heel of Missouri with plans to drain the swamps that his family now owns. Swamps that used to be forest land that the Canfield family has harvested all the trees. After draining this land, Bob knows they will have the best farmland.
Bob takes on this challenge as well as winning the hand of Connie Bateman, the daughter of the chancellor of Jefferson College.
Terry Perkins is off to become a newspaper reporter. He lands a job with the newest and hottest paper in St Louis, the St Louis Chronicle and soon finds himself reporting on the building of the Panama Canal.
JP Wintrop returns to New York, and despite his mothers objections, takes a position as the art curator for JP Morgan (for whom he was named, as the Morgans are family friends.) His mother wanted him to take a job as a banker, not an art curator. While JP finds his dream job in New York, he is soon to lose his love.
David Gelbman, whose family runs a successful department store in St Louis, is asked by his father to go to Austria and help a cousin at her store of his father after the death of her husband. A husband who made some bad investment decision and has left the family and its business is bad shape.
We will also meet Loomis Booker. A black man who has taken advantage of his situation as the maintenance man at Jefferson College and taught himself nearly all there is to learn at the college by pulling discarding college textbooks and studying from them. e has done this in secret but a select few at the college know of his endeavors and do their best to help him.
Then there is Eric McKenzie. A cowboy at a Montana ranch who leaves with two of his buddies for the Worlds Fair. After the three loose all their money in a theft and his two buddies are killed in a botched train robbery, Eric changes his last name to Twainbough and continues on to St Louis by joining up with some hoboes. His experience as a cowboy makes him a hero when an act in the Wild Bill Western Show doesnt go as planned and Eric steps in to save the day. He is asked to join the show and goes on to become one of the stars of the show.
This is an enjoyable book and the different stories are tied together very well. The characters are well written and set up to carry the series forward.