In a highly readable work that engages topics in American cultural, social and business history, Ann Fabian details the place of gambling in industrializing America. "Card Sharps and Bucket Shops" investigates the relationship between gambling and other ways of making profit, such as speculation and land investment, which became entrenched during the nineteenth century. While all these undertakings ran counter to deeply ingrained American--and Protestant--work ethics, only gambling took on a stigma that made other efforts to acquire wealth socially acceptable.
Fabian considers here the reformers who sought to ban gambling; psychological explanations for the deviant gambler; "numbers" games in the African American community; and efforts by speculators to draw distinctions between their own activities and gambling. She combines first-rate cultural analysis with rigorous research, and along the way provides a wealth of colorful details, characters and anecdotes.
"Ann Fabian's study is a genuinely original work that stimulates readers to re-think many familiar--and unfamiliar--aspects of nineteenth-century American culture, as well as its legacy in the twentieth."
-John Kasson, author of "Rudeness and Civility: Manners in Nineteenth Century Urban America
"A series of finely crafted essays on a common theme: the difficulty of distinguishing between licit and illicit gambling in American market culture. Her book is a fresh, imaginative foray into virtually uncharted territory..""
"Ann Fabian's probes into the underside of nineteenth-century Jackson Lears, The New Republict and illumination. Her book shows us the American work ethic turned inside out."
-Daniel T. Rodgers, author of "The Work Ethic in Industrial America, 1850-1920 and "Contested Truths: Keywords in American Politics Since Independence