We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
Fortune's Children Audiobook

Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt

Regular Price:$41.99
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

Vanderbilt: The very name is synonymous with the Gilded Age. The family patriarch, "the Commodore," built a fortune that made him the world's richest man by 1877. Yet less than fifty years after his death, no Vanderbilt was counted among the world's richest people. Written by descendant Arthur T. Vanderbilt II, Fortune's Children traces the dramatic and amazingly colorful history of this great American family, from the rise of industrialist and philanthropist Cornelius Vanderbilt to the fall of his progeny - wild spendthrifts whose profligacy bankrupted a vast inheritance.

©1989 Arthur T. Vanderbilt II (P)2014 Tantor

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (172 )
5 star
 (84)
4 star
 (58)
3 star
 (21)
2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (2)
Overall
4.2 (152 )
5 star
 (71)
4 star
 (52)
3 star
 (21)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (2)
Story
4.2 (154 )
5 star
 (77)
4 star
 (47)
3 star
 (18)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (4)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Hilary Connecticut 10-22-14
    Hilary Connecticut 10-22-14 Member Since 2015

    avoiding road rage one book at a time...

    HELPFUL VOTES
    166
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    119
    37
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    10
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Rise and Fall of the Gilded Age"

    Hats off to Arthur Vanderbilt II for combing through the family archive and putting this rich history down in one, cohesive place – it must have been fantastically challenging.

    The book starts off with the life story of the family patriarch, Cornelius, who single-handedly built his empire. He dropped out of school at 11 and at 16, with a $100 loan from his mother, he bought his first boat. He outwitted, out worked and intimidated his competition. He was a domineering and sadistic father of 13. He disowned his daughters who married (and no longer carried the family name) and berated his sons relentlessly.

    The story continues by developing the history and life of each of the most prominent family members: the rivalry to be crowned THE Mrs. Vanderbilt, the races to win the inheritance by each succeeding generation. Some family members were shrewd and had significant inheritances to pass on, while others spent money with gross frivolity, bankrupting some branches of this wild tree.

    Even with ALL of these unique and very different characters, the story is told coherently. It is not difficult to follow and figure out how each person is related, as Vanderbilt lays out this story logically, generation to generation.

    I found the story of Gloria Vanderbilt's childhood so fascinating, I purchased her autobiography to get her side of her story. She was fiercely manipulated as a child. Her alcoholic, gambling, reckless father was dead before she was two, leaving her with a social-climbing 20 year old mother who was manipulated by the Vanderbilts (specifically Gertrude) to gain control Gloria and her trust. It is unclear if it was truly in Gloria’s best interest, which is why I want to dive further into this subject.

    This is a great book - a thorough history of a very important part of America’s Gilded Age.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Tapp 10-26-14
    Nancy Tapp 10-26-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "One of my favorites!"
    Where does Fortune's Children rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I have really enjoyed listening to this book.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Too many characters to pick one.


    What about Patrick Lawlor’s performance did you like?

    excellent


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    very enjoyable


    Any additional comments?

    If you like the subject, this is a great book!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 10-27-14
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 10-27-14 Member Since 2014

    OCD over books, listening to 1 a day; ANY genre, fact & fiction. Influenced by Audible reviewers so I keep mine unbiased - FRONT to BLACK!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2559
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1584
    263
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    302
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "EXCELLENT, HONEST ACCOUNT"
    If you could sum up Fortune's Children in three words, what would they be?

    My headline sums it up along with a third description: EXCELLENT, HONEST, WELL-RESEARCHED. That's FOUR words but you get my drift!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    There were way too many characters to pick a favorite. However, if I have to choose, it would be the author, Arthur T. Vanderbilt II, for writing such an amazing history of his ancestors. He didn't pull any punches and remained totally unbiased. It's easier to name my LEAST favorite person: the family patriarch, Cornelius Vanderbilt, a crude, ignorant, penny-pinching and spiteful man.


    What does Patrick Lawlor bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Patrick Lawlor has the perfect non-regional white boy voice to narrate the history of a uniquely American creation: gilded age robber barons.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, indeed. I almost did but one MUST eat!


    15 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    donna PENSACOLA, FL, US 11-15-15
    donna PENSACOLA, FL, US 11-15-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Enjoyable"
    Would you listen to Fortune's Children again? Why?

    Really enjoyed hearing about the making and losing of a great American fortune. Interesting and well-researched.


    Which character – as performed by Patrick Lawlor – was your favorite?

    Alva Vandeebilt Belmont.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Ramsay canada 09-06-15
    C. Ramsay canada 09-06-15 Member Since 2016

    crazy c

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "interesting"
    Any additional comments?

    great story, very well written I find that when you are listening to historical novels like this it is easy to get the characters confused but that was not the case with this book, it was easy to listen to and it kept my attention

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt 05-07-15
    Matt 05-07-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "informative... and Sad "

    narrated with many voices as the letters from each generation are read. a deep look into the psychology of the gilded age and the sad fall from grace that became of the commodore 's decendents. don't look for a sugar coated glossing of rich life here as both the highs and lows are explored.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gudrun Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, Canada 05-06-16
    Gudrun Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, Canada 05-06-16 Member Since 2016

    I'm open to any book as long as it is true to itself.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    76
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    414
    204
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This was a slow read"

    Aspects of this book were interesting, like the decline of the family fortune. All these people seemed to be unhappy, so this made the book dull. It would have been a better if it had been written by someone objective just because the author is related dose not mean that he would know more than a good researcher.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    fluegge 04-30-16
    fluegge 04-30-16 Member Since 2011

    vgondrezick

    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    100
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes! Very interesting and not normally the type of book I purchase.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Fortune's Children?

    The over all decadence of that era.


    What about Patrick Lawlor’s performance did you like?

    Not my favorite reader, but I eventually adjusted to his style.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No...I can't imagine anyone even could. But it was wonderful for getting a lot done around the house:-)


    Any additional comments?

    In the middle of watching Anderson Coopers piece on CNN, Nothing Left Unsaid. What a treat to get to see this after listening to the book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G Strand, South Africa 10-18-15
    G Strand, South Africa 10-18-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "If you are interested in family money?"

    Really interesting to see how this family made money. And one observation. "It is easy to make money. But not easy to hang o to money". The family managed to squander a fortune ...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denise 07-26-15
    Denise 07-26-15 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    35
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The history of the Vanderbilt's in a nutshell"
    Would you listen to Fortune's Children again? Why?

    Absolutely! There's so much information that it almost needs a 2nd time around


    Any additional comments?

    We were leaving on a trip for North Carolina and I wanted to know some background information before we toured the Biltmore - and boy, does this book give you everything you need to know. In the end it was sad to see the wealth of this family deminished by pure greed and spending. Virtually nothing is left of this mass fortune.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.