Synopses & Reviews
In this marvelous anecdotal history, Justin KaplanPulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Mark Twainvividly brings to life a glittering, bygone age.
Endowed with the largest private fortunes of their day, cousins John Jacob Astor IV and William Waldorf Astor vied for primacy in New York society, producing the grandest hotels ever seen in a marriage of ostentation and efficiency that transformed American social behavior.
Kaplan exposes it all in exquisite detail, taking readers from the 1890s to the Roaring Twenties in a combination of biography, history, architectural appreciation, and pure reading pleasure
This newest book by Pulitzer Prize winner Kaplan is a sparkling combination of biography, social history, architectural appreciation, and pure pleasure, as he looks at the Astor familys dynasty and its contributions to the city of New York.
About the Author
A gem of a book . . . No one since [Henry] James has written with such ease and grace about the era of excess as Kaplan. (Megan Marshall, author of The Peabody Sisters)Mr. Kaplan is a companionable writer, and his well-turned sentences are a delight to read. (The New York Observer)An entertaining social history. (New York Daily News)Mr. Kaplan, a dazzling stylist, is perfectly suited to his subject: what Henry James lovingly called hotel civilization . . . [A] splendid book about a bygone age that has not quite gone away. (The New York Sun)A subject that proves more revealing of the nature of American democracy than many hefty social and political histories. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)Justin Kaplans short but diverting tale of the career of the Astor family is told with gleeful humor and frequent sarcasm. He defines his subject as a commentary on the progression of taste and social attitudeand does it very well. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)A fascinating social history as well as a fun gossipy read. Kaplan has an eye for both the dishy details and the deeper meaning beneath them. This vision makes When the Astors Owned New York the best kind of history: entertaining. (BookPage)