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John Jacob Astor: Landlord of New York Paperback – December 1, 2005


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About the Author

ARTHUR DOUGLAS HOWDEN SMITH (1887-1945) was an enormously prolific and diverse writer, penning numerous short stories, biographies, and business studies, but he is best remembered for his many pulp novels, including Porto Bello Gold (a prequel to Treasure Island), The Dead Go Overside, The Doom Trail, Swain's Saga, and others.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Cosimo Classics (December 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596057491
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596057494
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,462,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By franciscodanconia on August 9, 2005
Format: Unknown Binding Verified Purchase
A wonderful read which will teach you more than you ever learned in school about the post-Revolutionary War era. Since America is an economic story, NOT a political one, this book SHOULD be REQUIRED READING for all high schoolers to graduate.

The west was settled via the lubricant of Astor's capital, his rapidly expanding fur-trading company. Given more power over America's military actions, Astor would have been able to guarantee America the entire west coast of North America-- leaving Canada with no border on the Pacific. The little US Government's folly in the War of 1812 destroys Astor's trading post in British Columbia, and the rest is history as they say. Ironic, considering Astor was one of the biggest US financer's of the War of 1812. Lesson is: governments don't dictate the outcomes of the world, but business leaders do.

You will learn, Astor is first to capitalize on the Louisianna Purchase, and the first to take advantage of the vast findings of Lewis & Clark Expedition. Astor led the first trek by land to the west after Lewis & Clark, funded all by himself and much cheaper than the Government-funded expedition.

Unfortunately, even though the book is titled "Landlord of New York", the book fails to document Astor's real estate investments in any detail. The book spends great detail on the fur trade, with many characters listed and not explained to the modern audience. This book needs to be re-written for modern audience, as most are not even familiar with Astor's only competitor for richest man of his era-- Stephen Girard of Philadelphia. Much more detail and research could be done, concerning Astor's real estate investments. It appears to me that the author, overwhelmed by the task, grew tired as he finished up the fur-trading expose.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Craig Frooninckx VINE VOICE on December 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
Written in the English of the 1930's, this book was hard at times to read and follow what was going on. It started off very good, describing John's background, his relationship with his family and his desire to go to America. It explains his stop in London and his trip across the Atlantic. His attempt to sell Musical Instruments and how he came upon Fur trading. After the family started, the story gets more confusioning and often vague on details, and only the last 30 pages talkes about his Real Estate adventures and the end of his life.

Near the end, you learn that John Jacob Astor had in his will that all of his ledgers and business notes were to be destroyed which also destroyed the history and understanding of this successful man.

I learned quite a bit about this man and his world, but would suggest another source to learn about him than this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. Wiegele on September 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am still plowing through this history of John Jacob Astor. I believe this was written in the '30's, and the language is very formal and hard to follow sometimes. Focuses a lot on Astor's trade practices and it gets really boring in the middle. The first chapter was the best and traced him from Germany to England and then to America. The author seems to have a slightly negative feeling towards his subject---calling him unimaginative and dull. I felt like I got the gist of his wealth in one chapter----the man got rich off of furs by forming a monopoly. It was interesting to know that the famous Astors became so rich and became leading members of New York society all because the original heir was a determined beaver trapper and tradesman.
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