Mellon: An American Life

by David Cannadine

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | February 12, 2008 | Trade Paperback

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A landmark work from one of the preeminent historians of our time: the first published biography of Andrew W. Mellon, the American colossus who bestrode the worlds of industry, government, and philanthropy, leaving his transformative stamp on each.

Andrew Mellon, one of America’s greatest financiers, built a legendary personal fortune from banking to oil to aluminum manufacture, tracking America’s course to global economic supremacy. As treasury secretary under Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and finally Hoover, Mellon made the federal government run like a business–prefiguring the public official as CEO. He would be hailed as the architect of the Roaring Twenties, but, staying too long, would be blamed for the Great Depression, eventually to find himself a broken idol. Collecting art was his only nonprofessional gratification and his great gift to the American people, The National Gallery of Art, remains his most tangible legacy.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 832 pages, 3.63 × 2.4 × 0.68 in

Published: February 12, 2008

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307386791

ISBN - 13: 9780307386793

Found in: Biography and Memoir

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– More About This Product –

Mellon: An American Life

by David Cannadine

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 832 pages, 3.63 × 2.4 × 0.68 in

Published: February 12, 2008

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307386791

ISBN - 13: 9780307386793

Read from the Book

THE PATRIARCH PRESIDES Father and Sons, 1855–73 Make your child a partner in your joys and sorrows, your hopes and fears; impart your plans and purposes; stand not on your dignity, but let yourself down to his capacity, if need be, and show your trust in him. You will be surprised to find how much a five or ten year old boy can understand of the ways of men, and how readily he will enter into your views. . . . I experienced the benefit of such training myself, and applied it in raising my own family with the most satisfactory results. Thomas Mellon and His Times , p. 29 1 A THRIVING CAREER Andrew Mellon was the sixth child of Thomas and Sarah Jane Mellon, but he was only the fourth to survive infancy. His two sisters were already dead, and although he would not long remain the youngest son, he grew up among brothers only, in what Burton Hendrick called a “eugenic” family.1 Only the fittest would survive. At the time of Andrew’s birth, his eldest brother, Thomas Alexander was eleven: the next, James Ross, was nine: and Samuel Selwyn was two. The two elder boys were close in age and interests: Andrew and Selwyn soon became a second pair, as would Richard Beatty (“Dick” or “RB”), who was born in 1858 and named for one of his father’s oldest friends, and George Negley, who arrived two years later and was named for his mother’s uncle. Even depleted by two early and wrenching deaths, this was a large bourgeois family by th
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Table of Contents

Preface Prologue: A Family in History PART ONE In the Shadow of His Father, 1855–1900 1. The Patriarch Presides: Father and Sons, 1855–73 2. The Family in Business: Boys and Banks, 1873–87 3. The “Mellon System” Inaugurated: “My Brother and I,” 1887–98 4. The Great Leap Forward: Mergers and Matrimony, 1898–1900 PART TWO Wealth’s Triumphs, Fortune’s Travails, 1900–1921 5. The Transition Completed: Family Man and Venture Capitalist, 1901–1907 6. The First Scandal: Separation and Divorce, 1907–12 7. Life Goes On: Business (Almost) as Usual, 1907–14 8. New Careers for Old: Single Parent, Aging Plutocrat, Emerging Politician, 1914–21 PART THREE The Rise and Fall of a Public Man, 1921–33 9. Hard Times with Harding: Political Realities, Getting Started, Settling In, 1921–23 10. Better Years with Coolidge: Mellonizing America, Aggrandizing Himself, 1923–26 11. Carrying On with Hoover: Great Ideas to Great Crash, 1927–29 12. Triumphs amid Troubles: Fortune’s Zenith, Russian Pictures, Pittsburgh Woes, 1929–31 13. “The Man Who Stayed Too Long”: Depression, Departure, London and Back, 1931–33 PART FOUR Old Man, New Deal, 1933–37 14. His World Turned Upside Down: An Unhappy Homecoming, 1933–34 15. The Second Scandal: The “Tax Trial” and the National Gallery of Art, 1933–36 16. Beginnings and Endings: The Gallery
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From the Publisher

A landmark work from one of the preeminent historians of our time: the first published biography of Andrew W. Mellon, the American colossus who bestrode the worlds of industry, government, and philanthropy, leaving his transformative stamp on each.

Andrew Mellon, one of America’s greatest financiers, built a legendary personal fortune from banking to oil to aluminum manufacture, tracking America’s course to global economic supremacy. As treasury secretary under Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and finally Hoover, Mellon made the federal government run like a business–prefiguring the public official as CEO. He would be hailed as the architect of the Roaring Twenties, but, staying too long, would be blamed for the Great Depression, eventually to find himself a broken idol. Collecting art was his only nonprofessional gratification and his great gift to the American people, The National Gallery of Art, remains his most tangible legacy.

About the Author

David Cannadine was born in Birmingham in 1950 and educated at the Cambridge, Oxford, and Princeton. He is the editor and author of many acclaimed books, including The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy, which won the Lionel Trilling Prize and the Governors'' Award; Aspects of Aristocracy; G. M. Trevelyan; The Pleasures of the Past; History in Our Time; and Class in Britain. He has taught at Cambridge and Columbia and is now the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Professor of British History at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London.

Editorial Reviews

“Absorbing. . . . Cannadine writes like a storyteller, and the book often reads as compulsively as one of those immense fictional sagas that weigh down the bestseller lists. Sin and redemption are always close to the center of those family tales, and so they are in Mellon.”
—Russell Baker, The New York Review of Books

“A fascinating biography. . . . A sprawling work for a sprawling life.”
—Roger Lowenstein, The New York Times

“A commanding biography, unsparing in revelation, lively in its writing, rigorous in its scholarship, astute in its judgments, and altogether a major contribution to American history.”
—Harold Evans, author of The American Century and They Made America