LITERATURE + LECTURES
Talk of the Town Lecture Series: All About Jesse Jones
November 19, 2011
Discovery Green presents Talk of the Town - a new series of free lectures in the park. This installment is entitled All About Jesse Jones, and takes place Saturday, November 19 at 2pm. Steven Fenberg reads from and signs his new biography of Houston's legendary leader Jesse Jones, Unprecendeted Power: Jesse...
Discovery Green presents Talk of the Town - a new series of free lectures in the park. This installment is entitled All About Jesse Jones, and takes place Saturday, November 19 at 2pm. Steven Fenberg reads from and signs his new biography of Houston's legendary leader Jesse Jones, Unprecendeted Power: Jesse Jones, Capitalism and Common Good.
As President Obama began to unveil sweeping government programs to restore the crippled economy, the public and media drew numerous comparisons with the actions of Franklin Roosevelt, who faced the grim prospects of the Great Depression almost eighty years earlier. Steven Fenberg tells the story of Jesse Holman Jones, the Houston businessman who went to Washington as an appointed official and provided the pragmatic leadership that salvaged capitalism during the Great Depression and militarized industry in time to fight and win World War II.
Jones—an entrepreneur with an eighth- grade education who built Houston’s tallest buildings of the time—was considered to be the most powerful person in the nation, next to President Roosevelt. As chairman of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Jones saved farms, homes, banks and businesses; built infrastructure; set the price of gold with FDR each morning in the president’s bedroom; and in the process made a substantial profit for the government. Then Jones turned the RFC’s focus from domestic economics to global defense.
As we grapple today with economic recovery, the role of government, and reliance on other nations for vital resources, Unprecedented Power offers a fascinating and timely perspective.
Steven Fenberg, who graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1970, was raised in Bellaire, a suburb of Houston. His family’s first store—Nolen Jewelry—was located in a downtown Houston building built and owned by Jones. As a child, Fenberg spent many happy hours at the store, exploring and enjoying downtown as if it were his backyard. Fenberg’s association with Jesse Jones thus did not begin in 1992; as for so many Houstonians of his generation, it began practically at the time of his birth.