Much in this portrait of clerks will strike a familiar chord. Michael Zakim, Patricia Cline Cohen, and other scholars have painted vivid portraits of these youths left to their own devices in New York's rough-andtumble arena. Luskey's postwar conclusion is a notable prequel to the development of the middle managers and salesmen so well portrayed in Olivier Zunz's study of late nineteenth-century capitalism.1 Nonetheless, On the Make offers an extensive look at the ubiquity of clerks, and convincingly claims for these strivers a place in the cultural shifts that accompanied nineteenth-century economic transformations. One could quibble that a few verbose diarists take over the narrative at times, and wonder too about the many clerks who did not work in dry goods stores (rather in law offices or insurance firms, for instance). Would their outlooks and experiences have deviated substantially from these counter jumpers? Perhaps not, and perhaps Luskey is right to assume that contemporary preoccupations with mercantile milksops and dandies tell the larger story. These quibbles aside, On the Make is a creative and engaging study of importance to scholars interested in the nineteenth-century consumer republic. Do nna J . Ri lli ng is associate professor of history
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Aug 11, 2011
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