Author Topic: The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt  (Read 4777 times)

Offline chin

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The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
« on: 02 October 2010, 02:20:34 »
The book is a biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

I first learn of the Vanderbilt name in a computer game Railroad Tycoons. Then in one spring break in my university days, I tag along with two friends visiting someone who was in post graduate study at the Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

I have read biographies of Rockefeller, JP Morgan, etc... early American tycoons. I did not quite understand the title "First Tycoon" when I picked up the book. But very soon I realized the legacy Vanderbilt made in the American history and business culture. He's truly the first tycoon, way before Rockefeller, JP Morgan, Carnegie had achieved prominence.

What fascinated me when reading this book was not only what Vanderbilt did, but the book also served as an introduction to the American history and society before the Civil War. It certain helps to see where things come from, when you look at how they do things now. The history of the making of Vanderbilt's empire is also the history of the making of American business culture, particularly that of New York City and why the city became the world financial center that it is now.

Another impressive part was how the author talked about the research process when writing this book. Whenever I read biography that recited conversations, I always wonder if the conversations were made up by the biographer. In this particular book, the author not only has end notes, he also written a long bibliographical essay. So there was a good chance that I was reading about facts, and interpretation based on facts.

(BTW I start reading the paper version, than 1/3 through continued on the Kindle version. When I finished the main biography, the Kindle shows around 73% progress. That means the remaining 27% or so are the end notes and bibliographical essay.)