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The First Tycoon Audiobook

The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 2010

National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2009

A gripping, groundbreaking biography of the combative man whose genius and force of will created modern capitalism.

Founder of a dynasty, builder of the original Grand Central, creator of an impossibly vast fortune, Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt is an American icon. Humbly born on Staten Island during George Washington's presidency, he rose from boatman to builder of the nation's largest fleet of steamships to lord of a railroad empire. Lincoln consulted him on steamship strategy during the Civil War; Jay Gould was first his uneasy ally and then sworn enemy; and Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president of the United States, was his spiritual counselor. We see Vanderbilt help to launch the transportation revolution, propel the Gold Rush, reshape Manhattan, and invent the modern corporation - in fact, as T. J. Stiles elegantly argues, Vanderbilt did more than perhaps any other individual to create the economic world we live in today.

In The First Tycoon, Stiles offers the first complete, authoritative biography of this titan, and the first comprehensive account of the Commodore's personal life. It is a sweeping, fast-moving epic, and a complex portrait of the great man. Vanderbilt, Stiles shows, embraced the philosophy of the Jacksonian Democrats and withstood attacks by his conservative enemies for being too competitive. He was a visionary who pioneered business models. He was an unschooled fistfighter who came to command the respect of New York's social elite. And he was a father who struggled with a gambling-addicted son, a husband who was loving yet abusive, and, finally, an old man who was obsessed with contacting the dead.

The First Tycoon is the exhilarating story of a man and a nation maturing together: the powerful account of a man whose life was as epic and complex as American history itself.

©2009 T.J. Stiles; (P)2009 Random House

What the Critics Say

"Rousing . . . An exemplary biography." (Kirkus)

"For all its complexity, T.J. Stiles's appreciative account of Vanderbilt's derring-do is a model of clarity, briskness and brio, and Mark Deakins's unhurried, pleasantly grave delivery serves it well." (Washington Post Book World)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (463 )
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4.2 (339 )
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4.3 (342 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Steven 01-11-16
    Steven 01-11-16
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    "A fitting look at the life of the original Titan"

    A well researched and sweeping portrait of Vanderbilt's motivations, intelligence, and tenacity deftly woven into the shared American experience.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jack 04-17-16
    jack 04-17-16 Member Since 2016
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    9
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    "great man twain wrong"

    corporations began and control in a positive manner. vandy was the right man @ right time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dominic West Orange, NJ, United States 03-21-16
    Dominic West Orange, NJ, United States 03-21-16 Member Since 2013

    DCObrigkeit West Orange N

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    5
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    "A very balanced view of a very complex men"

    This books shows the evolution of out financial system in a very personal way by showing its human perspectives by the people involved that yes we have heard of in history texts but this reveals very real of how each change came about using real transactions and real companies

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    carl 12-22-15
    carl 12-22-15
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    3
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    "Best book ever"

    A true New Yorker and Legend. Gives a sense of possibility and the first real tycoon. Great story telling with facts.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    david 08-11-15
    david 08-11-15 Member Since 2016
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    "great story"

    this is probably thw mist balanced and fair rendition of the great robber barons

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Haim Mizrahi 06-26-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Very informal book"

    Nice a bit long , it can be a shorter book !
    Very informal book
    I would recommend

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mama C 04-02-15
    Mama C 04-02-15 Member Since 2014
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    "If you are an economist..."
    Any additional comments?

    There are few books that I give up on, but having tried over and over to listen with interest, I am almost ready to say, "No more." Perhaps this could be considered a scholarly work; maybe more suited as a textbook. One needs a flowchart of characters and a passion for and/or a degree in economics to appreciate the plethora of facts recited in this tome. If I were forced to consume the facts in this book, I would prefer to have a print copy, list of characters and an atlas of the world and United States.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael M. 02-20-15
    Michael M. 02-20-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Great!"

    Didn't have a solid expectation but thrilled with what I learned. Narrator was the right selection for the book. Clear and easy to listen to for long stretches.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jose 02-01-15
    jose 02-01-15 Member Since 2012

    Engineer in St Louis, Missouri, United States

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    "Good book and the Narrator is Awesome"

    Cool story on how Vanderbilt built himself into a force of nature. Details on his style of business combat was awesome

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    steve j harwater 01-01-15
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    "Enjoyed very much"

    Great book, first time i read about vanderbilt. I reccomend it very much . I very interesting and powerfull man that had much to do with the usa growth

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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