The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

The First Tycoon The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt NATIONAL BESTSELLERWINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDIn this groundbreaking biography T J Stiles tells the dramatic story of Cornelius Commodore Vanderbilt the combative man and American icon who th

  • Title: The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  • Author: T.J. Stiles
  • ISBN: 9781400031740
  • Page: 228
  • Format: Paperback
  • NATIONAL BESTSELLERWINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDIn this groundbreaking biography, 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 than perhaps any other individual to create modern capitalism Meticulously researched and elegantly written, The First TycoonNATIONAL BESTSELLERWINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDIn this groundbreaking biography, 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 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.

    One thought on “The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt”

    1. *Whew* I'm sure that such a .ehensive book deserves a comprehensive review, and yet I barely had the fortitude to make it through the reading. Right now I don't even have the desire to attempt a Binksian or Sorensenian book review so I'll just ramble and pretend T.J. Stiles - the author of this book - won't be offended. Maybe he should be. He took the time to organize over 100 pages of footnotes at the end of the thing; the least I owe him is a well-organized book review.100 pages of notes! How [...]

    2. I admit that I'm not too comfortable with the world of high finance and economics. This might be odd, considering I majored in finance in college. Then again, I spent most of my college years smoking in the library, checking out coeds on the quad, starting food fights in the cafeteria, and playing tricks on the crusty dean. My copy of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations sits unread on my bookshelf. I swear, I'll get to it someday; as of now, however, I can't get past the first turgid page. When I thi [...]

    3. The early 19th Century time was a fascinating time for American business. Before railroad transportation most businesses consisted of small shops and farms. The primary means for shipping goods to far-away places was the use of rivers and oceans through shipping. The rights to shipping had dated back to the Revolutionary times when a family controlled water way rights and continued to do so up and until the mid 19th Century. One shipper spent his life attempting to break this monopoly. His name [...]

    4. Some reads are quick jogs, others are walks in the park and some gallop along. This was a marathon.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 [...]

    5. Now that I finally finished this thing up what do I think? I think it's still hampered by the fact that the subject, Cornelius Vanderbilt, just didn't do very many interesting things. The author does a game job of presenting things, and while I appreciate the stunning amount of research that must have gone into this thing, as a book it just reads way too detailed. There's plenty of non-fiction books out there that are really educational but also well-written and entertaining, I'd stick to those. [...]

    6. This is a very good book, but like Vanderbilt's life, extremely long. Vanderbilt himself was awkward with language, and consequently neither wrote or spoke publicly much during his life, so there is no introspection in this book. And while he aged, perhaps gracefully, to be the preeminent American businessman of his age (dying with as much as 10% of all American monetary value!!) his life didn't have the progression of Rockefeller or Carnegie who transformed from businessman to philanthropist du [...]

    7. A great biography of a major American business leader. Cornelius rose to become one of the wealthiest men in the United States by the time of his death. He began in a family of very modest means. Step by step, he rose into the highest echelon of American entrepreneurs.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 [...]

    8. The Commodore comes aliveIt'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 [...]

    9. You don't tug on Superman's capeYou don't spit into the windYou don't take the maskoff that ole Lone Rangerand you don't mess around with Cornelius VanderbiltThis 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 [...]

    10. I did it! Four doorstoppers on Nineteenth Century America. Before 'The First Tycoon': 'What Hath God Wrought' by Daniel Walker Howe, 'A Country of Vast Designs' by Robert Merry, and 'Team of Rivals' by Doris Kearns Goodwin.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 [...]

    11. This is a very, very, very exhaustive and detailed tome on Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. He was quite a man and a pioneer in the steamship and railroad business. Considered one of the robber barons of the gilded age, Vanderbilt made friends and enemies on his rise to the top of the financial and transportation business. He was a smart and cunning man. You either loved or hated him depending on which side of the deal you were on. He was a powerful man and he deserves a powerful biography. This [...]

    12. Started off promising charting Vanderbilt as a transitional figure in a transitional time, but the bulk of the book was pretty dull, deal to deal as the fortune was built. The explanation that Vanderbilt was important because he could see the abstract nature of value at a time when people saw this as somewhat suspect was interesting.

    13. “The First Tycoon” by T.J. Stiles, published by Alfred A. Knopf.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 ma [...]

    14. This book won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Biography and the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2009. This is a serious book written with the future scholar in mind. I have enjoyed reading this excellent in-depth biography. The author opens the book with the courtroom drama of Vanderbilt’s children fighting over the Will. Stiles leaves the courtroom drama to tell the story of Vanderbilt. Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) made his fortune in building steamships and railroad lines. He built the [...]

    15. Stiles's rendering of Cornelius Vanderbilt starts off strong. For over 100 pages the writing is riveting. What follows is a lot of detail on water and rail routes and deals. While the original research and its presentation are certainly worthy of the National Book Award, for me, and perhaps many other general readers, more than half the book was a slog.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 [...]

    16. The steamboat. Cornelius Vanderbilt age 30, in 1824 and working with Thomas Gibbons- Commander of Gibbons' forces. Gibbons vs Ogden. Remarkable so far. Aaron Ogden-hero of the Revolution- former New Jersey Governor.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 childrenIt is in [...]

    17. This Pulitzer Prize-winning book is one of the best biographies I've read. Vanderbilt's long lifetime spanned from George Washington's presidency to the Centennial. He personified the change in American business from sole proprietorships to huge corporate ownership. He started out operating a sailboat ferry across New York Harbor from his native Staten Island to Manhattan. Through frugality and good management he acquired a fleet of ferries and coastal sailboats. He got into steamboats early, an [...]

    18. One huge meatball of a read about this rich guy with a passion for screwing his competitors and escaping from his so-so home life. A businessman who gets all sanctimonious about playing by the rules, having first ascertained the game is rigged to his advantage. Today we've seen his type doing the perp walk. But back in his day, there was no such thing as insider trading or labor laws or level playing fields. In his day, Cornelius was revered. Be forewarned. The author marches you through the arc [...]

    19. This is the last book that needs to be written on Vanderbilt for many years--possibly ever. The scholarship is astounding, highly detailed and complete. While it was fascinating, I had to set it down about every hundred pages to keep from being overwhelmed. One simple example of the author's meticulous approach: throughout the book the author recounts well-known Vanderbilt anecdotes. These appear to be true but the author's research has proven them bogus. One of these tales is printed in Vanderb [...]

    20. 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 [...]

    21. EPIC—IN DETAIL.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 [...]

    22. 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 [...]

    23. Brings alive the extraordinarily complex history of steam ferries in New York Harbor. Who would have guessed that such a subject could be so interesting?

    24. Some parts of this book seemed so drawn out and overly detailed but after finishing this book I felt like I got a true sense of who Vanderbilt was and what he accomplished. For all his faults, he directly impacted American and world history and I found it very interesting to read about how his life intersected with so many historical events.

    25. well-written and researched American economic historyperfect for those who wish Chernow wrote moreprobably not for fiction readers wanting engaging narrative nonfiction

    26. There were the rich, the super rich, and Cornelius Vanderbilt. T.J. Stiles takes you through the life of the Commodore in The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt."Sons are notoriously prone to exaggerate the importance of their fathers, as are biographers with their subjects"Vanderbilt founded a dynasty. The First Tycoon starts with one of the final challenges to that dynasty. The Commodore had left the vast majority of his estate to one of his children. The rest were challenging [...]

    27. Stiles, T. J. THE FIRST TYCOON: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt. (2010). ****. I’ve been reading this biography in bits and pieces for two weeks now, and finally came to the end. If this isn’t a great example of an exhaustive biography, then I’ve never seen one before. It is extremely well written, and well researched. The author manages to maintain the reader’s interest even in the face of otherewise boring business maneuvers by the group of tycoons of the time. Vanderbilt started [...]

    28. This book took me longer than I thought it would to read -- I didn't finish it until a third check-out period from the library. It's long, yes, but I found it un-skimmable in a good way. There's so much here: a story of a man's life that bridges the 18th-century colonial period of landed gentry to the 19th-century period of frenetic entrepreneurialism, vivid sketches of life in New York City from 1800 to the 1870s, and a detailed economic history of the first 100 years of the United States.Vand [...]

    29. 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 [...]

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