“Next to the President, no man in the Government and probably in the United States wields greater powers.”

Saturday Evening Post, November 30, 1940

“Don’t ask me what I have done on matters of business … The only person I am going to see within the next 36 hours is Jesse Jones.”

Franklin Roosevelt, July 16, 1933

“I was convinced that conditions were rapidly approaching such a precarious state that only the federal government through unusual methods could deal with them effectively.”

Jesse H. Jones, July 12, 1937

Winner of
The San Antonio
Conservation Society
2013 Citation

the 2012 Ottis Lock Award

and

The Texas Institute of Letters
Carr P. Collins award for
best non-fiction book of 2011


Government works when a
      capitalist with his eye on the bottom line and on the common good is in
      charge. - Steven Fenberg, Unprecedented Power

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Unprecedented Power shows how Jesse Jones and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation saved banks, homes, farms and businesses; helped millions of citizens; built consequential infrastructure including bridges, tunnels and aqueducts; nurtured innovation; and simultaneously made money for the federal government during the worst of the Great Depression. Then, 18 months before the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Jones and President Franklin Roosevelt shifted the RFC’s focus from domestic economics to global defense and began to build new, cutting-edge industries in time for the Allied Forces to fight and win World War II. No wonder Kirkus Reviews said Unprecedented Power “holds enormous relevance today.”

Former secretary of state James A. Baker III said, “If ever a man personified the word titan, it was Jesse H. Jones. His influence was felt around the nation and the world when he was a chief architect of the plans that restored the U.S. economy during the Great Depression and militarized industry in time to win World War II. Steven Fenberg’s biography, Unprecedented Power: Jesse Jones, Capitalism, and the Common Good, is a compelling story of a Houstonian who wielded power in ways that helped build his city and his country into powerhouses. It is a must read for those wanting to learn how a great nation—and a great man—can respond to difficult challenges.”

According to Fenberg, Jones understood he would prosper only if everyone in his community had the opportunity to thrive, a belief that directed him to combine capitalism and public service to develop Houston, to restore his country and to save nations. As we grapple with the role of government, economic insecurity for many, unemployment, crumbling infrastructure and reliance on other nations for vital resources, Unprecedented Power offers models for today by looking at successes from the past.

As he sought to restore the nation’s devastated economy, Jesse Jones said in a 1937 Saturday Evening Post article, “In my opinion, the key to the situation confronting us today is intelligent, cordial, friendly, determined cooperation between government and business—government and all the people. It cannot be sectional; it cannot be class [driven]; it cannot be political. It cannot be achieved if we let ourselves believe that our government is our enemy.”

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