736 pages, 9.16 × 6.14 × 1.52 in
April 20, 2010
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 1400031745
ISBN - 13: 9781400031740
About the Book
A gripping, groundbreaking biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the combative business titan whose genius and force of will created modern capitalism.
Read from the Book
The IslanderThey came to learn his secrets. Well before the appointed hour of two o’clock in the afternoon on November 12, 1877, hundreds of spectators pushed into a courtroom in lower Manhattan. They included friends and relatives of the contestants, of course, as well as leading lawyers who wished to observe the forensic skills of the famous attorneys who would try the case. But most of the teeming mass of men and women—many fashionably dressed, crowding in until they were packed against the back wall—wanted to hear the details of the life of the richest man the United States had ever seen. The trial over the will of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the famous, notorious Commodore, was about to begin.Shortly before the hour, the crowd parted to allow in William H. Vanderbilt, the Commodore’s eldest son, and his lawyers, led by Henry L. Clinton. William, “glancing carelessly and indifferently around the room, removed his overcoat and comfortably settled himself in his chair,” the New York Times reported; meanwhile his lawyers shook hands with the opposing team, led by Scott Lord, who represented William’s sister Mary Vanderbilt La Bau. At exactly two o’clock, the judge—called the “Surrogate” in this Surrogate Court—strode briskly in from his chambers through a side door, stepped up to the dais, and took his seat. “Are you ready, gentlemen?” he asked. Lord and Clinton each declared that they were, and the Surrogate ordered, “Proceed, gentlemen.”Everyone who listened as Lord stood to mak
From the Publisher
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
In this groundbreaking biography, T.J. Stiles tells the dramatic story of Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt, the combative man and American icon who, through his genius and force of will, did more than perhaps any other individual to create modern capitalism. Meticulously researched and elegantly written, The First Tycoon describes an improbable life, from Vanderbilt’s humble birth during the presidency of George Washington to his death as one of the richest men in American history. In between we see how the Commodore helped to launch the transportation revolution, propel the Gold Rush, reshape Manhattan, and invent the modern corporation. Epic in its scope and success, the life of Vanderbilt is also the story of the rise of America itself.
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.
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 o