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
I enjoy history, biographys, and nerdy/ dorky things.
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.
For someone who was loved and hated perhaps more then anyone else of his time, John D. Rockefeller presents a challenging topic to any biographer. Yet, Ron Chernow does justice to both Rockefeller's rapacious business ambitions and unmatched virtue in philanthropy.
Right now I have been enjoying biographies. Maybe if I learn about admirable people a little of their character will rub off.
I remember in my eight grade history class learning that John D. Rockefeller was evil. That was the idea I was left with and would have kept. I am grateful that I stumbled across this book. Everyone knows him as the wealthiest man in America. What I leaned is that he may have had more self control and personal will than any man in America. In my mind he went from being a evil oil giant to a personal hero.
I learned a lot about how Rockefeller made his money. The book 'told all' one might say. But then the book ignores the Rockefeller dynasty's real crimes, such as the depopulation agenda, which came after the 'Titan' made his billions.
The book is about Rockefeller.
Loved this book! From beginning to finish Titan really gave me a look at Rockefeller from his Parents, to his childhood, his adolescence, his day to day religious views, his business, his philanthropy and lastly his family. I really enjoyed the ending with the details of each of his grand children.
Surfer, musician, business coach, healthcare facilities management director.
It's hard to imagine the author doing a better job. It's like walking along side Rockefeller....staying engaging throughout. It is a long book, but then he had a long life! Narration is superb.
Wow, this book is phenomenal. Great story but at times I would lose when in time something had taken place when the subject would change. Towards the end it started to drag a bit getting more into off spring of John D.
Great to hear the path of the first great mogul of America. The story jumps a round a bit and as a result sometimes gets confusing but all in all a good listen.
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