The First Tycoon
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
In this groundbreakingbiography, T.J. Stiles tells the dramatic story of Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt, the combative man and American icon who, through his genius and force of will, did more than perhaps any other individual to create modern capitalism. Meticulously researched and elegantly written, The First Tycoon d...more
100 pages of note...more
What makes the opening strong is the discussion of the patrician attitudes of the founders, how this manifested itself in not only politics but t...more
It's hard, quite hard, translating 19th century finances to today, or stature.
But, pretend that one person was a pioneer in both the equivalent of computer operating systems AND online communications, and had the money of both. In other words, Cornelius Vanderbilt approaches a combination of Bill Gates and Sergey Brin, or something like that, with a fortune worth a least $100 billion in today's economy.
It would be easy indeed to stereotype this person as a Gilded Age "ro...more
The book was a national bestseller and won the Pulitzer Prize for History, but I don't see what all the fuss is about.
The book does do an impressive job of making a compelling historical character out of a man not known for his personality and who was barely literate, and thus left few records. Stiles does manage to show the drama in things like the war for the control of the Erie Railroad in 1869 and Vanderbilt's financial expansion from the Hudson River Railroad into a national system. There a...more
You don't spit into the wind
You don't take the mask
off that ole Lone Ranger
and you don't mess around with Cornelius Vanderbilt
This book won the Pulitzer Prize and rightfully so. What an amazing life was this one of over 80 years that played such a vital part in the history of the United States.
Knowing absolutely nothing about the Commodore before starting the book, I was eager to find out about him, expected a scoundrel and found a man of character. Stiles obvious...more
The funny thing is I enjoyed it, and actually am inspired to read more American history. As I was finishing Stiles' excellent biography, I heard about President Obama reading Edmund Morris's 'The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt,' and immediately wanted to read that. (Obama was the...more
I am thrilled to be do...more
Robber baron Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt emerges from T.J. Stiles’s biography as a captivating character and a ferocious competitor. Nineteenth-century America’s most powerful tycoon had an imposing presence. At more than 200 pounds and six feet tall (two inches taller than the average American male at the time), Vanderbilt stood ramrod straight. A ferocious street fighter in his youth, he remained hale and hearty into his 80s. As a young steamboa...more
Though Stiles's admiration for the man who inspired the phrase "robber baron" shines throughout this extraordinary rags-to-riches story, he harbors no illusions about his vindictive and bad-tempered subject. Stiles is quick to set the record straight when the past has condemned Vanderbilt unfairly, but he details his unscrupulous business dealings and troubled relationships with equal aplomb. Stiles's exhaustive research has resulted in a massive, carefully edited book, and critics were surprise...more
I bought the book because I've read too many lifeless...more
But, as with other readers, I thought that this b...more
Be forewarned. The author marches you through the arc...more
Cornelius rose from nothing – a real Horatio Alger story. Uneducated, he rose from operating a single boat ferrying commuters to and from Manhattan, to bu...more
But if we return to the book. This is the first real biography I've read and it is...more
* Cornelius Vanderbilt was a financial titan who shaped a very formative America. He is the founder of big business, by consolidating corporations for efficiencies' sake..
* He had humble, but industrious beginnings. He began his work life at a very young age by ferrying people and produce across the bay. It led into sloops, then steamships, then routes, then competition, then su...more
The First Tycoon shows us how Vanderbilt went from being very concerned with simply surviving all the way through his empire-building. It shows his relative lack of concern about what his competitors were doing and simply focusing on the task of providing the best service at the leas...more