The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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 is it!
Stiles follows Vanderbilt from the time he started working for his father running an import / export business on an old sailboat through his time building paddle boats and steamships, building a route from Nicaragua to California during the gold rush, moving into the railroad business and to his death at the age of 82. He almost died many times due to crashes and ill health, but he rallied each time and persevered through to be one of the richest men in the world.
This book really deserves a higher rating, but it was too much for me at the time I was reading it. I appreciate the details. Stiles was well researched and it shows. I will certainly take a stab at his other works, but for this reading, I found myself struggling to stay interested and often found my mind wondering at times.
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