"Ambition is not what it used to be," writes Joseph Epstein. The desire to get ahead no longer evokes the same admiration it once did--indeed, modern novelists seem hardly able to deal with ambition without a sneer. But is ambition necessarily synonymous with ruthless, narrow self-interest? Or, as Mr. Epstein suggests, is it "the fuel of achievement"--an honorable way to influence and advance civilization? Mr. Epstein's sketches of eminent Americans--from Benjamin Franklin (that premier go-getter) to Henry Ford, Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Adlai Stevenson, and the Rockefeller, Guggenheim, and Kennedy dynasties--and his pointed reconsideration of the ingredients of the American Dream (success, money, and power) form a fascinating social history, one that may change many readers' attitudes toward their "secret passion." "Should be must reading in executive suites as well as college classrooms."--Forbes. "Handled with a good amount of wit and with the clear, straightforward analysis of a man with a point of view. Like Samuel Johnson, [Epstein] reminds more often than he instructs."--Jack Richardson, New York Times. "To have so rich an intellectual fare so pleasurably served is rare. Read Ambition and feast."--Saturday Review.
A good amount of wit and with the clear, straightforward analysis of a man with a point of view.... Epstein writes fluently, in clear, elegant sentences, about a complex and philosophically interesting idea.--The New York Times