- Paperback: 832 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; 2nd edition (March 30, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400077303
- ISBN-13: 978-1400077304
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 511 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. Paperback – March 30, 2004
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“A biography that has many of the best attributes of a novel. . . . Wonderfully fluent and compelling.” —The New York Times
“A triumph of the art of biography. Unflaggingly interesting, it brings John D. Rockefeller Sr. to life through sustained narrative portraiture of the large-scale, nineteenth-century kind.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Important and impressive. . . . Reveals the man behind both the mask and the myth.” —The Wall Street Journal
“One of the great American biographies. . . . [Chernow] writes with rich impartiality. He turns the machinations of Standard Oil . . . into fascinating social history.” —Time
From the Inside Flap
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, the National Book Award-winning biographer of the Morgan and Warburg banking families, gives us a history of the mogul "etched with uncommon objectivity and literary grace . . . as detailed, balanced, and psychologically insightful a portrait of the tycoon as we may ever have" (Kirkus Reviews). 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 will indelibly alter 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 thirty years dodging investigations until Teddy Roosevelt and his trustbusters embarked on a marathon crusade to bring Standard Oil to bay.
While providing abundant new evidence of Rockefeller's misdeeds, Chernow discards the stereotype of the cold-blooded monster to sketch an unforgettablyhuman portrait of a quirky, eccentric original. A devout Baptist and temperance advocate, Rockefeller gave money more generously--his chosen philanthropies included the Rockefeller Foundation, the University of Chicago, and what is today Rockefeller University--than anyone before him. 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. Pierpont 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 nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is Ron Chernow's signal triumph that he narrates this monumental saga with all the sweep, drama, and insight that this giant subject deserves.
"From the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
Chernow is an excellent writer.
JDR was an interesting person with two faces, a fierce capitalist and warm old man.
The author has succeed to give us enough details about JDR in an entertaining way.
Worth of reading.
Rockefeller played hard - by modern standard, some of his actions were dirty. Did Rockefeller obtain his riches because of his dirty dealings? Or were his indiscretions merely mistakes made by a moral man running in a competitive, unforgiving industry? Chernow comes to the later conclusion and writes a sympathetic biography.
Rockefeller wasn't greedy. Rather than being driven to acquire, Rockefeller felt compelled to do his best. Despite keeping a ledger of expenses, Rockefeller didn't keep score by his bank account. Making money was the measure of success, having money wasn't the measure of a good life. Chernow details the thought, care, and resources Rockefeller invested into his philanthropic foundations.
The public may be more receptive to a sympathetic portiat of Rockefeller now (2013) than when Titan was published (1998). Rockefeller's tactics played poorly in the 50 years following WWII - the era of mass markets and unions. After the 2008 financial crisis, we entered a more entrepreneurial era. We may appreciate Rockefeller's self reliance more. Compared to the modern scoundrels of large financial institutions, Rockefeller doesn't seem too bad.