The first volume in Dreiser’s celebrated Trilogy of Desire, The Financier tells the story of Frank Cowperwood, the son of a banker whose forays into the world of finance bring him incredible loss and fortune. Set during the aftermath of the American Civil War, Frank’s exploits cause him to become involved in several notable historical events, including the Great Chicago Fire and the Panic of 1973. Modeled after tycoon Charles Yerkes, Frank remains a compelling character whose financial failures and successes still delight readers to this day.
Based on the life of flamboyant financier C.T. Yerkes, Dreiser's portrayal of the unscrupulous magnate Cowperwood embodies the idea that behind every great fortune there is a crime. You don't read Dreiser for literary finesse, but his great intensity and keen journalistic eye give this portrait a powerful reality.