The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
Founder of a dynasty, builder of the original Grand Central, creator of an impossibly vast fortune, Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt is an American icon. Humbly born on Staten Island during George Washington’s presidency, he rose from boatman to builder of the ...more
100 pages of note ...more
Now, let me explain myself in that it's a good marathon, the type you feel good about because you think you've accomplished something. Most biographies fill the pages with just enough information to keep the reader involved. But this book's paragraphs are packed with details so that the reading itself takes longer just to be able to comprehend it all. The life of Cornelius Vanderbilt was amazing, b ...more
At the outset of his working life, he was just another employee. But, with time, hard work, and some luck, he developed a presence in the ferry boat business in the New York City area. Early on, he found a benefactor--and in this m ...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
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
Category - Biography/History Publication Date – 1994.
This book has received excellent reviews through the years and I would have to heartily agree. However, I would caution the reader that he or she must be interested in Cornelius Vanderbilt, his life and this period of American History. If not, I would stay away from this book because you will never reach the ending.
It is hard to image the tremendous wealth that Vanderbilt made dur ...more
Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) made his fortune in building steamships and railroad lines. He built the G ...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
Stiles... call me in the future if you need help understanding the financial transactions. You're too brilliant to get caught up with poor explanations.
Stiles might get credit for being the first person to make me aware th ...more
This is a great biography of Cornelius (aka Commodore) Vanderbilt. He was truly a self-made man who become the richest and most powerful person in the country during the 19th century.
It is interestin ...more
Vanderbilt had incredible admiration for the much older Thomas Gibbons, who died May 16 1826.
John Quincy Adams entered the White house in March 1825 and the Erie Canal was completed by November of that year.
Cornelius was in court over neglect of his wife and by then 6 children
It is in ...more
Be forewarned. The author marches you through the arc ...more
T. J. Stiles provides a masterful biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt from his childhood to the tremendous impact he made on this country as a tycoon and "commodore" in the various industries he transformed. From his early time running steamboats and laying the groundwork for one of the most important Supreme Court cases (Gibbons v. Ogden) to the time he was running railroads Vanderbilt displayed tremendous business acumen and skill. He had a simple principle to making money which was to only go w ...more
2.5 stars is closer to reasonable.
Listening to THE FIRST TYCOON: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, by T. J. Stiles, although rife with interesting moments, was made, at times, confusing and overwhelming by its far too excruciating attention to minor details. I really don't care that 'Commodore' was putting on shoes, with four buckles on them, while receiving a visitor—who considered the shoes stylish, by the way, and thought he might like to have a pair like them—in his sitti ...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
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