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.
I had so many takeaways from this book. I would recommend this to anyone who is a history buff of the early industrial period in this country. And I think this book is also for anybody who is a dreamer-anyone who wants to enjoy material wealth in its most lavish form.
I found myself thinking about what it would be like to live this kind of lifestyle and whether or not it was something that I truly wanted, or whether it was just a dream that was a holdover from my childhood/early adulthood years.
But I can definitely say that this is a good read. There were parts of the history of this country (US) that I was unaware of. And, I consider myself a pretty informed person. I was really intrigued by the author's ability to take us into the life of John d. Rockefeller. I think that he gave a very balanced portrait; he didn't excoriate him but neither did he lift him up to make him larger than life. I think he really tried (and succeeded) to paint a picture of someone who was deeply conflicted and who figured out how to make a lot of money by pushing the envelope in more ways than one.
I think this is a good book. I think it's worth a listen. I don't know how I would have fared if I had to read however many pages it is in print; but certainly investing the 35 hours it took to listen was worth it.
It took me several weeks to get through the book, listening only during my drive time to and from work and to and from church. Bottom line: buy the book; listen; enjoy! I can't imagine anyone who would be disappointed by listening to his book.
certainly not Chernow's best, as Alexander Hamilton was beyond riveting, this 35 hour long informative piece, to any layman, helped paint a fuller picture about a very cryptic Titan.
I knew little to nothing about John D. Rockefeller. This is a well-written and balanced account of his most interesting and controversial life. Recommended listening!
Fascinating family history. Especially since such a small percentage of his deeds bore the Rockefeller name. Just wish reader had a more forceful voice when reading quotes. It was like hearing Mickey Mouse quote Walter Cronkite.
This book gives the readers the human side of Jonh D. Rockefeller. It's allows the listeners to learn Rockefeller's ...
*Way of approaching conflict
*Dealing with gossip and press
*Method of obtain and maintainig his monopoly
*Belief and mindset
The begin of the audiobook was very interesting and will make want to listen to a good portion of the audiobook. In the middle of the section you are put into the perspective of business leader making his chess moves on the world stage. Near in the end,you will have a human connection with Rockefeller and have a new found respect in his contributions for humanity.
Husband to Betsy, Father to Molly, and Professor at Bethlehem College & Seminary.
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.
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