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The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbiltby T.J. Stiles
Synopses & Reviews
At long last a biography worthy of the Commodore, meticulously researched, superbly written, and filled with original insights.
-Maury Klein, author of The Life and Legend of Jay Gould
T.J. Stiles writes with the magisterial sweep of a great historian and the keen psychological insight of a great biographer. The First Tycoon is the fullest, most perceptive chronicle ever written of the life and times of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the epitome of unfettered, winner-take-all capitalism. With panache and admirable ease, Stiles maps the financial and political currents on which Vanderbilt buccaneered and shows that it was Vanderbilt, more than anyone else, who enabled business to evolve into Big Business.
-Patricia O'Toole, author of When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt After the White House
T.J. Stiles has given us a balanced and absorbing biography of this colorful and often ruthless entrepreneur, the first of the 'robber barons' who transformed the American economy in the nineteenth century.
-James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
The First Tycoon is a brilliant exposition of the life of Cornelius Vanderbilt and the entrepreneurial environment that he shaped. Readers will look at Grand Central Station and much else in American life with fresh eyes.
-Joyce Appleby, author of The Restless Revolution: A History of Capitalism
The definitive biography of Commodore Vanderbilt. Both as portrait of an American original and as a book that brings to life an important slice of American history long neglected, this is biography at its very best. A magnificent achievement.
-Arthur Vanderbilt II, author of Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt
Superbly written and researched . . . Worthy of its subject.
Shrewd . . . As he did in his much-acclaimed Jesse James, Stiles limns the meteoric career of an impetuous spirit. Rich in detail, the narrative reveals much about not only the unschooled genius . . . but also the national culture he helped transform . . . A landmark study.
-Starred review, Booklist
Rousing . . . An exemplary biography.
-Starred review, Kirkus
Thoroughly researched . . . Stiles meticulously separates myths from facts in a book that compares favorably with David Nasaw's Andrew Carnegie . . . Dispassionately revising our portrait of Vanderbilt, Stiles has produced a work highly recommended.
-Starred review, Library Journal
From the Hardcover edition.
A profile of the iconic builder of the first Grand Central Station draws on previously untapped materials to provide coverage of his roles in such historical eras as the Gold Rush, the transportation revolution and the development of the modern corporation. Reprint.
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 describes an improbable life, from Vanderbilt’s humble birth during the presidency of George Washington to his death as one of the richest men in American history. In between we see how the Commodore helped to launch the transportation revolution, propel the Gold Rush, reshape Manhattan, and invent the modern corporation. Epic in its scope and success, the life of Vanderbilt is also the story of the rise of America itself.
About the Author
T. J. Stiles has held the Gilder Lehrman Fellowship in American History at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, taught at Columbia University, and served as adviser for the PBS series The American Experience. His first book, Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War, won the Ambassador Book Award and the Peter Seaborg Award for Civil War Scholarship, and was a New York Times Notable Book. The First Tycoon won the National Book Award in 2009. He has written for The New York Times Book Review, Salon.com, Smithsonian, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in San Francisco.
Visit the author's website at www.tjstiles.com.
Table of Contents
Pt. 1. Captain 1794-1847. The islander — The duelist — A tricky god — Nemesis — Sole control — Man of honor — pt. 2. Commodore 1848-1860. Prometheus — Star of the west — North star — Ariel — Vanderbilt — Champion — pt. 3. King 1861-1877. War — The origins of empire — The power to punish — Among friends — Consolidations — Dynasty — Epilogue.
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