The Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

Book - 2007
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Baker & Taylor
Presents the life and accomplishments of the steamship and railroad entrepreneur, focusing on his success in building the first integrated railroad system in the Northeast and in establishing New York City as a financial capital.

Perseus Publishing
The first modern biography of an American financial giant.

Using previously unreleased archives, Edward J. Renehan Jr. narrates the compelling life of Cornelius Vanderbilt: willful progenitor of modern American business. Vanderbilt made his initial fortune building ferry and cargo routes for sailing vessels. Then he moved into steamboats and railroads. With the New York Central, Vanderbilt established the nation’s first major integrated rail system, linking New York with Boston, Montreal, Chicago, and St. Louis. At the same time, he played a key role in establishing New York as the financial center of the United States. When he died in 1877, Vanderbilt left a fortune that, in today’s dollars, would dwarf that of even Bill Gates. Off Wall Street, Vanderbilt was a hard-drinking egotist and whoremonger devoid of manners or charity. He disinherited most of his numerous children and received an editorial rebuke from Mark Twain for his lack of public giving. Commodore sheds startling new light on many aspects of Vanderbilt’s business and private life including, most notably, the revelation that advanced stage syphilis marred his last years. This is the definitive biography of a man whose influence on American life and commerce towers over all who followed him.

Book News
He built a national railroad. He was the reason why New York became the financial center of the US. He amassed a fortune worth about $143 billion today. He gave less than one percent of it to charity. Vanderbilt's variable but extremely lucrative career began by his building ferry and cargo routes, leading to his establishing transportation networks and developing financial systems to support his and others' projects. While he examines the reasons for Vanderbilt's success, journalist and independent scholar Renehan makes good use of previously unknown sources to answer the mysteries, including Vanderbilt's self-imposed identity as a completely economic man, the relatively low opinion in which others in his class held him, his strained relations with his family and his odd behavior in his old age. The result is both a rigorous analysis of Vanderbilt's financial success and an accessible examination of both his contexts and his psyche. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: New York : Basic Books, c2007
ISBN: 9780465002559
Branch Call Number: B VANDERBILT


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