I read this book because I kept hearing liberals criticize the "Horatio Alger stories" that conservatives like to tell about America. According to these reputable sources, such rags to riches tales are no longer realistic for most of the nation's poor. Ragged Dick is a charismatic bootblack who, through hard work and frequent displays of moral fiber, manages to pull himself up in the world. The story isn't particularly compelling, but it's far from being Pollyanna or outlandish. It doesn't imply that every poor person can become rich, only that with effort it's possible to succeed despite long odds. Apparently this is a controversial point of view.The writing is geared towards children and as such is somewhat simple and repetitive. The story itself is interesting, but not outstanding. I'm glad I read it (and especially glad I read it before knowing anything of Alger's biography) but I doubt I'll read more from his rather large collection of similar stories.