Diamond Jim: Gilded-Age Greed or Heart of Gold?

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One historian breathlessly declared that Diamond Jim exemplified “the rich at play” and “the outsized appetites of a gaudy, grasping, exuberant America.”

If all you knew about Diamond Jim Brady was his jewelry and his appetite, you might think of him as interesting at best, disgustingly grotesque at worst. You might even buy into the superficial perspective of the Gilded Age fault-finders, the ones who make Brady’s habits into a sweeping indictment of everything capitalist. But you would miss so much of this man’s incredible life that your assessment would be more than a little incomplete. It would be grossly unjust and uninformed.

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