John D. Rockefeller, Sr., history’s first billionaire and the patriarch of America’s most famous dynasty, is an icon whose true nature has eluded three generations of historians. Now Ron Chernow, a National Book Award-winning biographer, gives us a detailed and insightful history of the mogul. Titan is the first full-length biography based on unrestricted access to Rockefeller’s exceptionally rich trove of papers. A landmark publication full of startling revelations, the book indelibly alters our image of this most enigmatic capitalist.
Born the son of a flamboyant, bigamous snake-oil salesman and a pious, straitlaced mother, Rockefeller rose from rustic origins to become the world’s richest man by creating America’s most powerful and feared monopoly, Standard Oil. Branded "the Octopus" by legions of muckrakers, the trust refined and marketed nearly 90 percent of the oil produced in America.
Rockefeller was likely the most controversial businessman in our nation’s history. Critics charged that his empire was built on unscrupulous tactics: grand-scale collusion with the railroads, predatory pricing, industrial espionage, and wholesale bribery of political officials. The titan spent more than 30 years dodging investigations until Teddy Roosevelt and his trustbusters embarked on a marathon crusade to bring Standard Oil to bay.
While providing abundant evidence of Rockefeller’s misdeeds, Chernow discards the stereotype of the cold-blooded monster to sketch an unforgettably human portrait of a quirky, eccentric original. A devout Baptist and temperance advocate, Rockefeller gave money more generously than anyone before him - his chosen philanthropies included the Rockefeller Foundation, the University of Chicago, and what is today Rockefeller University. Titan presents a finely nuanced portrait of a fascinating, complex man, synthesizing his public and private lives and disclosing numerous family scandals, tragedies, and misfortunes that have never before come to light.
John D. Rockefeller’s story captures a pivotal moment in American history, documenting the dramatic post–Civil War shift from small business to the rise of giant corporations that irrevocably transformed the nation. With cameos by Joseph Pulitzer, William Randolph Hearst, Jay Gould, William Vanderbilt, Ida Tarbell, Andrew Carnegie, Carl Jung, J. P. Morgan, William James, Henry Clay Frick, Mark Twain, and Will Rogers, Titan turns Rockefeller’s life into a vivid tapestry of American society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is Ron Chernow’s signal triumph that he writes this monumental saga with all the sweep, drama, and insight that this giant subject deserves.
©2004 Ron Chernow (P)2013 Blackstone Audio
This was a long, long read but I just can’t see how you’d get the whole story about the Rockefeller Empire by reading an abridged version. It was long, but well worth your time.
From the onset, John D Rockefeller was destined to be a financial giant. Choosing not to enlist in the union Army during the civil war he began building his empire in Cleveland with a small Oil refinery. As the demand for oil grew, and following several business savvy maneuvers he slowly built Standard Oil into the world’s largest oil company and he into one of the world’s richest men. Not without a few underhanded tactics which he would ignore, Standard Oil grew to colossal proportion until it was ultimately broken up by the US courts.
This was an excellent read and I would recommend it to anyone who would like to learn about Rockefeller, Standard Oil, his philanthropic endeavors, or how one of the largest corporations in the world became the greatest monopolies. The story is long and no detail is left out and it is well worth the time to learn how this very powerful, yet very complex family empire came to be.
I was not interested in the life of Rockefeller when I bought this. I got it truly bc of the reviews and the fact that it was one of the only Chernow books NOT narrated by Scott Brick. (Sorry I know lots like him, but I've gotten a little tired Scott brick.)
I knew about Roosevelt's trustbusting and Ida Tarbel's newspaper attacks, but not from the perspective of those who were victims of much scrutiny and hatred. Tarbel in particular went too far.
I sludged through first two or three hours, then I was hooked. I learned SO much about how big businesses worked back then. The most interesting part of book for me was the way the family charities evolved into serious organizations whose members won Nobel prizes for curing diseases and saving countless lives. Many will be surprised at the state of medicine in America before the Rockefeller Institute for scientific research in medicine. The charities are so numerous. I especially was impressed with his work to raise education in the south.
Chernow is an outstanding historian. He covers every aspect of every story. Good and bad. He creates both the savage business man and the well meaning family man. He shows us the humanity that was lost on so many others who abused him personally about his looks and his illness, they even attacked his family. I did feel sorry for the man at times!
Definitely interesting and beyond well-written. Great Performance by Grover Gardner!! As usual... (Why didn't he read George Washington????)
YES! And I have, to anyone who will listen. This is a fascinating story of a man very few people know much about beyond his wealth. Chernow is both an excellent writer and a master of research. This is a long listen but it never bogs down. You will walk away having completely revised your understanding of Rockafeller. You may not like him any better but you will know him better.
When I realized the origin of Spellman College in Atlanta, GA.
Everything, he is one of my favorite narrators. Knows when to emphasize and when to hold back, easy on the ears, good diction, pleasant tone.
The end. I was sorry it was over.
Insightful, thorough, neutral
The story is so well written and does not take sides!
Yes, but impossible.
Enjoyed every minute
Reason I selected the book in first place was the Grover Gardner, he brings the story to life.
Married, father of 2. I enjoy biographys, history, and nerdy/dorky thing.
The sequential steps through out JDR life. Growing up poor, to becoming the worlds wealthiest man. The book does not sugar coat JDR, not does it portray him as history's greatest villain either. He was a CEO of his time and age.
JDR. He was much more likable than I expected him to be.
Well read, nothing to complain about
No. Most biography I read don't exhibit in me a strong emotional reaction. However learning about US industry after the Civil War through WWI was very interesting
Growing up in a very liberal household names like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Morgan, Carnegie, ect were names of evil, money hunger villains. I was surprised to learn how generous with his wealth Rockefeller was.
There are no listener reviews for this title yet.
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.