Andrew Mellon rose to become one of America's greatest financiers.
Despite painful shyness and personal misery - his loveless marriage ended in scandalous divorce - he built a mighty and diverse fortune, tracking America's course to global economic supremacy.
As treasury secretary under Harding, Coolidge and Hoover, he made the federal government run like a business - prefiguring the public official as CEO - and won credit for the Roaring Twenties.
But Mellon would stay on too long: blamed for the Great Depression, he eventually found himself a broken icon, his every fiscal assumption overthrown by the New Deal.
Prosecuted for tax evasion, Mellon would not abandon his last dream, to make a great gift to America; but he died before his National Gallery of Art was realized.
David Cannadine is one of our greatest historians and "Mellon" is his masterpiece.