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Kid Carolina: R. J. Reynolds Jr., a Tobacco Fortune, and the Mysterious Death of a Southern Icon

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  134 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
The Reynolds tobacco family was an American dynasty like the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Astors. R.J. "Dick" Reynolds Jr. was born into privilege and decadence, but his disastrous personal life eventually destroyed almost every relationship he cherished and stole his health at a relatively young age.
Dick Reynolds was dubbed "Kid Carolina" when as a teenager, he ran awa
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Published March 10th 2010 by Center Street (first published 2010)
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Nov 15, 2014 Joan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, fiction
Heidi Schnakenberg discloses the true tale of the squandered, wastrel life of this recipient of the lucky DNA lottery in her biography of R. J. "Dick" Reynolds, Jr.

This scion of the Reynolds tobacco lineage was born with conspicuous economic advantages and bedeviled by family tragedies. Dick Reynolds was a prodigious lover and sinner. His addictions to love, tobacco and alcohol resulted in mayhem throughout his privileged life, though a charming personality and generous nature won him many frien
Zeb Kantrowitz
Jan 05, 2014 Zeb Kantrowitz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
RJ Reynolds(Dick) Jr, was not born with just the proverbial "silver spoon" in his mouth, but the whole silver service, with matching Wedgewood china and Waterford crystal glassware. He was an accomplished Yachtsman, Businessman and entrepreneur. In the 1920s he helped form what became Eastern Airlines, sold it an built Delta Airlines from a crop dusting company to one of the largest airlines in America by the 1950s. During the 1930s he raced and won, many of the most prestigious sailboat races o ...more
May 31, 2010 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating biography of R.J. Reynolds, Jr., the heir of the Reynolds tobacco company based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Reynolds grew up in a family that was every much a dynasty among the industrial rich in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Reynolds was not involved in the day to day operations of Reynolds Tobacco and, in fact, until late in his life he did not even sit on the board of directors. However, he was instrumental in creating both Delta Airlines and Eastern Airl ...more
Carl Rollyson
Aug 01, 2012 Carl Rollyson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of a great tobacco fortune, a playboy of the Western world, a wayward husband four times over, a dashing yachtsman and aviator, successful entrepreneur and diabolical dipsomaniac - not to mention a generous benefactor to N.C. State University and other worthy North Carolina institutions and causes.

But wait! Not only did R.J. Reynolds Jr. confound and outclass virtually everyone who crossed or catered to him, he also died in mysterious circumstances, having just wed a young Germ
Feb 09, 2011 Kennedy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kid Carolina is a biography of R.J. Reynolds Jr, of R.J. Reynolds tobacco fame. I found this book randomly browsing on Amazon one day.

I like biographies and this one promised a bit of mystery as its subtitle was "R. J. Reynolds Jr., a Tobacco Fortune, and the Mysterious Death of a Southern Icon." I recognized the name R.J. Reynolds and know that the tobacco wealth funded a lot of charitable activities in the South. That's about all I knew though, so I was able to read Kid Carolina without any pr
Kate Irwin-smiler
It started off as an oddly fawning biography but it seemed that Schnakenberg got less enamored of Reynolds through his adult escapades. At times it read like a travelogue of Reynolds' drinking, which was less than inspiring reading. I'd rather have more time spent on his mysterious death & the aftermath - that was probably the most interesting part of the book, but dealt with in a single chapter and epilogue, but definitely skimmed over a lot of material.

I'll be reading The Gilded Leaf and L
Jan 28, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We just visited Reynolda House in Winston Salem so was interested in the Reynolds family. Money corrupts and it's a shame he fathered seven children and then neglected them. The "bungalow" is a very interesting place to visit though.
Tien Bui
A very interesting reading learning about the Reynolds family.
Jill Cramer
Good reading for North Carolina history buffs.
Feb 09, 2012 Carrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Confirming my realization that I am a true non-fiction girl, I really enjoyed this book. I had a special connection to it because it is written by a high school classmate of mine. Heidi did a great job telling the story of the life of R.J. Reynolds, Jr. Though it's non-fiction, it reads like fiction because as it details the life of a rich and famous man of the 20th century, it is filled with drama, a little mystery and adventures around the world. Thanks for writing the book, Heidi...I have no ...more
This book covers much of the information in The Gilded Leaf by Patrick Reynolds yet delves more into RJ Reynolds Jr's life and mysterious death. Schnakenberg relies heavily on court testimonies as well Muriel's, RJ Jr's third wife, papers to write this account. I felt Muriel's section of the book was thus more engaging. I would like to see more about Blitz and Marianne, his first two wives. Again, fascinating read as to how money can leave a family destroyed and unconnected yet provide so much, ...more
Rick Segers
Dec 16, 2011 Rick Segers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew nothing of this story going into the book. It was fascinating account of the lifestyle of the pre-jet jet set. There are hundreds of stories of wealth, marriage, divorce, and more set among that group in that generation. It almost makes the current crop of "celebrities" seem pale by comparison.
I live on Saint Simons Island which is mentioned in the book and just a few miles from his beloved Sapelo Island and Darien, Georgia. So this story had some strong local connections.
Mary Mendenhall
Aug 17, 2011 Mary Mendenhall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book pretty fascinating....especially as a resident of Winston-Salem and a WFU graduate. The history of the Reynolds family is amazing...they really founded Winston-Salem. This is a great perspective on this well as the corrupting influence of having too much darn money and too much time on your hands. The book includes it all...historical perspective, romance, corruption, adventure, and mystery. I would say it was pretty well entertaining!
Nov 18, 2010 Naomi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
R.J. Reynolds Jr. was a very generous man with anyone that was not a family member or one of his 4 wives. An alcoholic from his early youth, he was a miserable excuse for a husband and a non-existent father for his seven children. He did many wonderful things for his state of North Carolina and his country. But his family's business founded on the tobacco industry also has touched the lives of all of us through the devistation it has caused.
Jessica  Fraser
May 27, 2012 Jessica Fraser rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I grew up with Heidi, in rural Iowa. We used to have tea parties together! Good read - this story is like old school Kardashian lifestyle. Wealth and privilege, no work all play, huge mansions all over the southern U.S. and houses in Europe, yachts, private planes. Absent fathers, mothers remarrying too soon, vicious divorces, and mysterious deaths. Very well written.
Mar 02, 2012 Dona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this biography. Since I live in Winston Salem, North Carolina now and have heard about the Reynolds for years I found this book of particular interest. I had no idea of the twists and turns this family had. I must plan another visit to Reynolda House now that I have read this book. I couldn’t really appreciate it the first time I went.
The story was great-- a good biography of the heir of the great tobacco magnate RJ Reynolds, RJ "Dick" Reynolds, Jr. However, I feel like so many details were left out of this story. It's 350ish pages but should be at least 600. I was completely into the story, just wish there had been more dots to connect.
Aug 21, 2012 pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: highly-recommend
Told from another point of view than books about R.J. Reynolds, Jr, that I have read before. Love reading about the Reynolds family and the other "Giants" of of the turn of the century. They may have had many faults but they surely were good businesment and brilliant in many arenas.
Jan 02, 2011 hope rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Finally, I learned why my middle school, Hardin Reynolds Memorial School, had such a long freakin' name. Old Hardin was the father of tabacco man RJ Reynolds.

A fascinating read on many levels. Takeaway lesson: Money can ruin many a man.
Michael Moye
Fascinating subject, colorful characters, rich with potential - but the writing's pretty awful - storytelling that rarely rises above 'and then he did this, and then she did that'. But the facts alone managed to keep me reading..
Aug 23, 2010 Virginia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book to read if you're from Winston-Salem! He had a messy life, but I loved reading about such familiar places and learning about all the contributions the Reynolds family made to Winston-Salem.
May 24, 2010 Seth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Skimmed the last part of it. Didn't particularly like the writing style, but I have an interest in the family's effect on the region where I live.
Sep 06, 2011 Jenna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quarterly bookclub non-fiction - theme NC stories.
Very interesting story - not incredibly well written but interesting story nonetheless.
Jun 21, 2013 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Interesting for about 100 pages, but he was kind of a dick! He did not do right by his seven children and four wives.
Aug 14, 2011 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am in love with this book! Heidi, thank you for your honest and moving portrayal of Dick Reynolds!
Jan 07, 2014 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting to learn more about the Reynolds family, especially as a Winston-Salem resident
Nov 08, 2010 Gloria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting. Additional verification of the fact that money does not equal class.
Barb Smetana
Interesting but very sad account of RJ Reynolds Jr.'s life and family.
Only interested in the mention of Sapelo Island.
Must read for anyone living in WS!
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Heidi Schnakenberg is a screenwriter whose first assignment out of college was a commission to write a film adaptation for Oscar-winning director Francis Ford Coppola. She is also a journalist and business editor who has written for dozens of Fortune and Global 500 companies, and her columns have appeared in several national and international publications. Heidi is a graduate of New York Universit ...more
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