Per Justin’s book project on success and its evils, someone’s already been there, sort of.
I read it a couple of years back. It’s OK, without being compelling; it’s broadly an account of how success became an ideology in the US through the biographies of various unsuccessful entrepreneurs. The best bit is a side discourse on the early history of ratings agencies, which were founded, usually by ex-journalists, to grade the creditworthiness of traders from the sticks who came to New York. This grading consisted of making a quick trip to the fellow’s home town and picking up the gossip about him.
Some of it was germane, such as whether he’d met all his bills on time. Some had a certain relevance; such as checking with the local postmaster/mistress as to the volume of mail he sent and received as way of assessing the extent of his business. Other stuff was pure gossip: whether he attended church frequently, what the pastor thought of his morals, his ranking and status within local fraternal orders, whether his wife ordered racy dresses from suspect foreign countries and his daughter acted the flippertigibbet and so on. The eventual assessment included all these things in a merger of the moral and economic notions of credit. Being rated a bad risk, it was generally understood, also meant that you were bad man at least according to the collective prejudices of your home town.