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Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt | [Arthur T. Vanderbilt II]

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

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.
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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

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4.1 (62 )
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  •  
    Hillary MORRIS, CT, United States 10-22-14
    Hillary MORRIS, CT, United States 10-22-14 Member Since 2015

    avoiding road rage one book at a time...

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Tapp 10-26-14
    Nancy Tapp 10-26-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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!

    5 of 5 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

    Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton.  In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!! 

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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!


    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deanne VanAusdal 05-10-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Wealth without charity"

    Interesting but shockingly obscene with greed and waste. Proves that work is a blessing and to live to be simply entertained, is a curse.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt 05-07-15
    Matt 05-07-15 Member Since 2015
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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