Top Drawer: American High Society from the Gilded Age to the Roaring Twenties

Written by Mary Cable
Category: · History

The age of high society in the United States was remarkably brief but also glorious. The names of the families of “people-we-know” – from Astor to Vanderbilt, McCormick to Palmer, Cabot to Whitney – and the places they called home – Fifth Avenue, Newport, Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Prairie Avenue in Chicago, Delmonico’s ballroom – still evoke glittering images of style, wealth, and often-outrageous show. The era of “The 400,” with all its glamour gentility, and pretension, is marvelously evoked in this book. Top Drawer is affectionate and ironic by turns, pointing out, for example, that the American elite were the greatest art patrons since the Renaissance, yet recounting scandals and foibles with a knowing eye that never loses sight of the ruthless quest for power that underlay the gilded surface.

“The hoi polloi get their own back at the hoity-toity in Top Drawer, Mary Cable’s witty social history of the Gilded age of Astors, Vanderbilts, Van Rensselaers, Havemeyers, Chatfield-Taylors, et al. A stylish performance . . . . Cable’s polished prose, cool wit, and extensive research make illuminating history and grand entertainment.”
– Publishers Weekly

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