Brewster’s Millions by George Barr McCutcheon

Brewster's Millions

When I read Stephen Biller’s review of this book, I knew I had to read it at my first opportunity. Well, that opportunity arose and here we are. Unlike some books that I have read lately (good books, but slow going), I could not put this one down.

If you haven’t read this book, go read it next. It’s not that long and worth your time. The story though straightforward is amazingly creative. A young man receives one million dollars on his twenty-fifth birthday. That would be nice today, but in 1900, this was an astronomical fortune. About two weeks later, Brewster learns that he will inherit around seven million dollars on his twenty-sixth birthday if he can meet the following conditions:

  • He must be a pauper
  • He cannot have any hope of getting his money back after said birthday (No IRA’s or bonds or friends holding the cash for him)
  • He cannot spend frivolously (The understanding is that he will have to spend $1,000,000 so this is subjective)
  • He can’t give it away
  • He can’t tell anyone about this new inheritance nor why he is getting rid of the current one.

Brewster decides that this can’t be too difficult….

In 1900, the United States did not have a consumerist economy. Nay, the world did not have a consumerist economy anywhere. The best that I can figure, I could probably spend the equivalent in today’s currency (particularly given the current exchange rates), BUT we have societies built on spending money. One amusing point came when Brewster had appendicitis. He tried to overpay the doctor (bought the best care available, hired a private nurse etc…); the bill came to $3,000. 🙂

The hardest part was when people began deserting him as his money ran out. He was mocked and scorned. Those people would come to his parties, eat his food and laugh. They wanted simply to get what they could before he ran out of cash. Then they left him like the vultures they were.
Brewster’s amazing year showed him true love and true friendship. He decided that even if he lost the challenge, that much was worth one million dollars.

And no, the story wasn’t without some turns that would catch you off guard.

Definitely worth five stars even with a couple of swear words.

But, before you go, if you lasted this long, I have a question or two. How would you spend the money today? I would assume that it would be worth at least 30-40 million today. If you didn’t have the requirements about giving, who would you give to? I’ve thought about it once or twice. I think that I could do a lot of good for some of my family. Are they needy? No, but I would love to spend on them. That’s the great thing about family. They are people to spoil.

Gutenberg text: here
Librivox audio: here
Amazon purchase: here

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9 thoughts on “Brewster’s Millions by George Barr McCutcheon

  1. Next time one of you guys says you “can’t put a book down,” I’ll beware. I nearly went batty trying to finish this book! 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation; it was a very enjoyable read.

  2. Hi.
    I am sincerelyornot’s little sister.
    I liked your review on this book, it sounds very interesting. I haven’t read a book that I couldn’t put down since “Peter and the Secret of Rundoon.”

    About your questions at the end…if I had the money today I am not sure what I would do. Assuming I could give some away, I would give it to some people I know.
    Spend some on my family, although tithing would be the first thing to do.
    There are a few things I would want to do, but I can’t think of anything that would take millions. Unless it be starting and keeping up a farm.
    Anyway, thanks again for sharing this book with us. I hope to read it soon.
    ~Hannasus

  3. Welcome Hannasus!

    If I had the millions of dollars (in todays economy), I would certainly be paying off debts for family members, tithing of course, and donating quite a bit. But, if I HAD to spend it like Brewster, I don’t have any idea how I would do that, short of taking shuttle trips with family members. That costs a few million per person, so…

    Now, that I think about it, I would certainly do that. Hmmmm… to walk in space. Very cool. I might sponsor some educational initiatives (a la The George Lucas Educational Foundation http://www.edutopia.org/aboutus ).

    Thanks for your comments. I hope you will contribute some reviews as well?

  4. I can try….I’m not that great at writing reviews. I have never done it before.
    But I will try, hopefully next time I finish a book. That might be a while, I can’t find the book I’m reading.
    Going to space, not a bad idea. That would get rid of a few million. Or you could take a trip around Europe and travel first class in everything, and take a bunch of your family members.
    ~Hannasus.

  5. Hannasus, by all means, use this site to learn how to write better. I was a terrible writer (not great now, but improved over the last 2 1/2 years of this). If you go back through the archives, my writing has steadily improved.

    What I have recommended to others is this: write about the book just like you would tell people about it. Then get a trusted person to review it for you. If they don’t hack it up, then they aren’t being helpful…. You can’t improve without constructive criticism. Next, post it and get responses. Lots of reading and writing will hone your skills.

    I also recommend that you find other authors that you like to read and figure out why you enjoy them. Then imitate them (well, merge their style into your own style). Finally, kill most/all passive voice verbs. They drag writing down.

    Your sister can help hone your skills as she does a good job. I like to use this site as an opportunity to improve my communication skills and it has helped me at work. But, its a SLOW process.

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