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The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt Paperback – Apr 20 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 20 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400031745
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400031740
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3.9 x 23.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #84,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

A The New York Times Notable Book
 
A Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, The New Yorker, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, and Kansas City Star Book of the Year
 
“A mighty—and mighty confident—work. . . . This is state-of-the-art biography. . . . The First Tycoon has been widely praised, and rightly so. . . . This is state-of-the-art biography.”
The New York Times
 
“Superbly written and researched. . . . Worthy of its subject.”
The Economist
 
“Truly remarkable. . . . A landmark study that significantly enhances one’s understanding of U.S. economic history. . . . [Stiles is] one of the most exciting writers in the field.”
Foreign Affairs
 
“Stiles has painted a full-bodied, nuanced picture of the man. . . . Elegance of style and fair-minded intent illuminate Stiles’s latest, expectedly profound exploration of American culture in the raw.”
The Boston Globe
 
“Stiles, a superb researcher, has unearthed quantities of new material and crafted them into the illuminating, authoritative portrait of Vanderbilt that has been missing for so long.”
The Washington Post
 
“Very absorbing. . . . Much more than a biography. The book is filled with important, exhaustively researched and indeed fascinating details that would profit every student of American business and social history to read.”
San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Stiles writes with both the panache of a fine journalist and the analytical care of a seasoned scholar. And he offers a fruitful way to think about the larger history of American elites as well as the life of one of their most famous members.”
The New York Times Book Review
 
“Vanderbilt’s story is indeed epic, and so is The First Tycoon. . . . Stiles is a perceptive and witty writer with a remarkable ability to paint a picture of the America in which Vanderbilt lived.”
The Christian Science Monitor
 
“Fascinating. . . . A reminder that Vanderbilt’s life and times still have much to teach us.”
Newsweek
 
“Gracefully written. . . . [Vanderbilt] was the right man in the right place at the right time, and the meticulous Stiles seems to be the right man to tell us about it.”
St. Petersburg Times
 
“Stiles has given us a balanced and absorbing biography of this colorful and often ruthless entrepreneur.”
—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
 
“Monumental. . . . Arresting. . . . Stiles has a gift for making readers admire unsavory characters. . . . [The First Tycoon] resembles a five-course meal at a three-star restaurant: rich and pleasurable.”
—Bloomberg.com
 
“Engrossing and provocative. . . . Stiles draws on exhaustive archival research to clear away the apocryphal and celebrate Vanderbilt as an American icon.”
Tulsa World
 
“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
 
“Stiles writes with the magisterial sweep of a great historian and the keen psychological insight of a great biographer. . . . 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
 
“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 Relentless 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
 
“Stiles brings the Commodore, warts and all, to life in this new study, which is at once up-to-date in scholarly terms, analytically incisive, and lucidly written.”
Raleigh News and Observer
 
“Sweeping. . . . [A] magisterial, exemplary work . . . [that] offers entry into the storm-tossed world of our current tycoons and the rough waters they have piloted us into.”
American History Magazine
 
“Superbly researched and elegantly written. . . . Stiles’s will likely prove to be the definitive biography of this epic entrepreneur.”
Philanthropy Magazine

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.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Just fantastic... A balance between the personal, the social and the financial transformations happening in society within that particular area. Starting with Cornelius humble beginnings, M. Stiles takes us from the New York debut all the way thru Vanderbilt's life until his grand finale: Grand Central Station. Only minor point is that at some point, Stiles goes a little too deep into the financial explanations of certain events. Other than that, a very entertaining read. It gives us a full view of this complex character that was Vanderbilt; from his way of dealing with his children to his relation with his wife and mistresses and especially his business enemies.
Overall would recommend it for any biography readers.
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Format: Hardcover
"For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safely?" -- 1 Samuel 24:19

Cornelius Vanderbilt was driven by a desire to best his commercial rivals while realizing that he might in the future need to ally with them. As a result, he was a tough competitor while being careful to develop a reputation as someone who was trustworthy. You'll learn the consequences of this compulsion in The First Tycoon. And I'm sure many will pick up this book wanting to pick up tips on how to accumulate a great fortune.

If you are like me, you'll find many pleasant surprises in this book as many unexpected perspectives and dimensions emerge. This book could just easily serve as a primer on continuing business model innovation, an expertise that Vanderbilt seems to have had to an extraordinary degree. In addition, the book is a marvelous look into the dynamics of unregulated markets with relatively few competitors and how quickly monopolies and cozy oligopolies emerge that fleece the public. Further, the work does great justice to explaining how to gain cost and competitive advantages in transportation businesses (reduce the price, the hassle, and the costs). Beyond that, The First Tycoon is a definite primer on how to outmaneuver competitors in business and on the stock market. You'll also learn how to rig an unregulated stock market or to corner the market. Those who are interested in leadership will see many good models of how to go from doing to leading.

If that's not enough, you'll also learn about how a great success in business wasn't such a good father . . . and how he coped with the failings of his youngsters.

Those who like social history will find that the book is filled with much good information about the times and what it was like to live then.
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A Kid's Review on March 22 2010
Format: Hardcover
Well written, well researched, great historical content. If you like history and biographies this is a must read. Winning was the game, money was the score card. Moving up the social status ladder was the end result.
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