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Ida Tarbell

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The Unlikely Journalist Who Dethroned America’s Robber Barons

The idea of “the one percent” has become a popular way to discuss the gap between the fantastically wealthy—the one percent of Americans who control more than 20 percent of the country’s wealth—and the rest of us. But the one percent is not a new phenomenon. Back in 1900, they were known as the Robber Barons, and at the top sat John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil. But the Robber Barons had a corrective: Ida Minerva Tarbell.