Book Description

From Booklist It was an arms race that came down to the ticking of minute and second hands. The duel between two wealthy Americans to build and own the greatest timepiece ever constructed is meticulously narrated by journalist Perman. Spanning the Gilded Age to the Great Depression, the story focuses on the competitors, James Ward Packard, who built the luxury-car company that bore his name, and financier Henry Graves Jr. The story will attract both watch enthusiasts and readers interested in the Gilded Age, as it examines the fascinating technological complexity of timepieces in the context of the era?s overall focus on progress. The book sometimes reads as a catalog of the competitors? acquisitions, translating the prices into eye-dropping modern figures, but Perman?s ability to enliven the narrative with sparkling historical details?packs of dogs nipping at the wheels of the first Packards?enlivens the account considerably. The battle for ever-greater timepieces reflects the distinct characters of Packard and Graves, the brilliant engineer and the crushingly competitive heir, and pays homage to the crowning achievements of a lost world of wealth, privilege, and culture. --Bridget Thoreson Read more Review 'Stacy Perman has pulled off a remarkable feat in this book. In telling the story of the most complex watch ever made, she writes about a device that not only tells time with exquisite percision but also, in her capable hands, opens up a revealing window onto an entire age.' (Toby Lester, author of The Fourth Part of the World and Da Vinci's Ghost)'A unique competition between two scions of the Gilded Age is the driver for this fresh look at the mores of the rich and powerful. The aim of the competition was to acquire the world's most complicated timepieces. She effectively combines these different strands, providing a compelling social history...A masterful approach to composition combines with a fascinating plot and makes its subject entertaining as well as compelling.' (Kirkus, starred review)'Lively' (Publishers Weekly)?A story artfully told and illustrated with rich historical detail. (New York Times Book Review)?That Perman has crafted a compelling tale that tells several stories at once and will appeal equally to readers inside and outside of the insular watch-collecting community is a testament to her considerable skills?. Perman's pacing makes the tale feel downright suspenseful.? (Los Angeles Times)'Imagine an Edith Wharton novel crossed with Dava Sobel's Longitude.' (Nick Foulkes, author of High Society)?Stacy Perman provides a captivating view of high-flying, other-era wealth and privilege and the enduring appeal of artifacts that tumble down through history with the fairy dust of titans still attached. This book makes a Rolex seem a piker?s toy.? (Les Standiford, author of Desperate Sons)?Stacy Perman?s A Grand Complication is a masterfully layered tale of the lives of two incredibly wealthy men and their obsession to conceive and own the most fabulously constructed, incredibly complex, exquisitely made watches on the face of the earth. And like the ?complications? she writes about, it all works.? (David Tripp, author of Illegal Tender)?Engrossing? Perman brings it alive.? (Dallas Morning News)?A lively account?provides a window into [watches'] role as status symbols during an age of conspicuous consumption.? (Columbus Dispatch)'Perman packs in so much detail about the lavish lifestyles of the pre-Great Depression rich that her book can sometimes read like The Great Gatsby on steroids. But there?s no obscuring the real stars here, the triumphs of Gilded-Age nanotechnology brought to life by the obsessions and money of Packard and Graves.' (MacLean's)'The duel between two wealthy Americans to build and own the greatest timepiece ever constructed is meticulously narrated by journalist Perman. Spanning the Gilded Age to the Great Depression, the story ... will attract both watch enthusiasts and readers interested in the Gilded Age, as it examines the fascinating technological complexity of timepieces... Sparkling historical details enliven the account considerably? Pays homage to the crowning achievements of a lost world of wealth, privilege, and culture.' (Booklist)?Jazz Age drama? Perman?s attention to detail evokes Jack Finney as she carefully reconstructs daily life in fin de si?cle America and the Roaring Twenties. Her obvious passion keeps the pages turning.' (Civil Engineering) Read more See all Editorial Reviews

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