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Showing 11-20 of 293 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 513 reviews
on March 30, 2015
Let me start by saying that this is the only book I have read/listened to about the life of John D. Rockefeller. That said, Chernow seemed to treat Rockefeller with an even hand. The book left me confused as to what to think about Rockefeller. As a man, he seemed like a decent person. As a business man, he came across as ruthless and cunning, but only because he wanted his company to succeed. I appreciated Chernow's thoughts on Ida Tarbell and stating the fact that she had an ax to grind in her stories about Rockefeller.

I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading Chernow's other books.
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on July 31, 2012
This was required reading for a class my son was taking while attending Vanderbilt University. So, while visiting him, I saw the book and began reading it. It turned out to be one of my favorites. I found that I could not wait to get back into it every time I had a chance. The read was a journey that painted head pictures not only of the subject, Rockefeller, but also of the life and times in America during it's formidable years. It was a fantastic story that exposed a different way of thinking about money and the need to disperse it responsibly and productively on a level few would ever need to consider. It was an enlightening account of a mans life seen in a way that allows the reader to pass judgement on how well this man conducted his life. The book is long as it really needed to be in order to convey, with un-spun detail, the huge amount information a reader must know in order to be fulfilled. The length of the book simply extended the enjoyment of reading it. In addition, the language and expert vocabulary used by the author is a refined treat. I enjoyed the book so much that I have purchased and read all that this author has published.
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on September 16, 2015
Excellent biography. Well balanced, and informative of the life and times of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. You will get a good understanding of the early period of the oil business, and how John D. developed his business, leading up to the break up of Standard Oil, and the creation of the modern oil companies we are all familiar with.
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on February 9, 2013
I greatly enjoyed myself reading about Rockefeller in Ron Chernow's Titan. The biography itself covers Rockefeller's life fairly completely. The book also spends a considerable amount of time on his only son, JDR, Jr, who received almost the entire fortune and who spends his entire life selflessly dedicated to his father and philanthropy. (Junior had 5 famous sons, the Rockefeller brothers, Nelson, David, Laurance, Winthrop, and John III.)

Probably the biggest question about Rockefeller is where on the spectrum of good to evil he falls, and I think Chernow paints as sympathetic a picture as possible, doing a good job of getting beneath how the press betrayed him.

For me, the most fun part of Rockefeller's life to read about was the last stage where he more or less became a happy go lucky "codger" (as Chernow calls him), though I have a feeling that Chernow's research on his early life and how his early life pervades the rest of his life is probably Chernow's most important contribution to posterity. The most exciting part of the book was obviously how Rockefeller got his start.

Picking up the story after Rockefeller's death, I started to read the life memoire of David Rockefeller, written in 2003. Chernow actually spoke with David before writing Titan. Curiously, the chapters in David Rockefeller's memoire that deal with his father (Junior) and grandfather (Senior), published 7 years after Chernow's book came out, almost seem lifted from Chernow's book. There's almost nothing written solely on Jr, except a bio by Raymond Fosdick. (Fosdick was closely associated with Junior for 40 years.) Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (Junior's wife) also seems interesting (she is responsible for the MoMA), and there is a bio of her by Bernice Kert. I can't wait till the spring to visit Kykuit!

The research was top rate, and the book read effortlessly. I had a hard time putting the book down. The only problem I had was that the Kindle version footnote links did not work.
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on February 17, 2014
Ron Chernow masterfully presents the many sides of the life of Rockefeller, without simplistically stereotyping him or going to the other extreme - of cheerleading his accomplishments and glossing over his faults. At the end of this lengthy read, you'll find yourself staggered at the amount of wealth accumulated by this mysterious capitalist, surprised by the vast array of his philanthropy of which we still benefit today, yet left shaking your head at his blind spots in his family, his mindset about monopolies and his lack of any remorse for any actions taken by his behemouth, Standard Oil. I was also struck by how human nature has not changed in 100 years. Just like the succesful are villified for political gain today, so Rockefeller was jeered no matter how much money he gave away, and the line of freeloaders and politicians who felt entitled to his fortune was endless. In a world of hard right and hard left politics, Chernow get's it right - telling the story in all its real life complexity - without resorting to politically charged stereotyping..
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on March 10, 2015
Very well written bio about perhaps the most amazing industrialist ever born! The book cogently encapsulates the dichotomy of the Rockefeller fortune - rigorous, scrupulous and perhaps even illegal business practices in accumulating unparalleled wealth contrasted with a philanthropic fervor that has benefitted millions for over a century. I was unaware of the true magnitude of the Rockefeller magnificence - incredible advances in medicine and education and the establishment of hundreds of thousands of acres of preserved public lands. All of us must be judged by the totality of our works and actions - I came away believing that we all owe a debt of gratitude to this historic American family! I'm now reading Ron Chernof's book on the House of Morgan.
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on June 4, 2014
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding Rockefeller Sr. and how he built his empire. While some of his business tactics were cutthroat in hindsight they were not things that other people weren't doing at the time. Rockefeller Sr. was just better than anybody else in the business. The book is littered with stories about how he broke down seemingly impossible situations and was able to pull out incredible wins. A brilliant tactician who outwitted many of the best businessmen. He never went to college and only had a high school education but understood the economics of oil better than anyone else at the time. I recommend this for anyone wanting to understand big business or who wants to be inspired. Ruthless? yes, brilliant? absolutely, generous? far beyond anyone else. Rockefeller Sr. was a complex man and this book does an excellent job of bringing him back to life.
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on March 12, 2017
A thorough review of Rockefeller and the interesting contradictions of a life in business. I would recommended to anyone who enjoys Chernows writing or detailed business history that is enjoyable to read.
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on July 22, 2017
Woof. This was wayyy longer than I thought. It's like 700+ pages and the first who knows how many pages were extremely boring backstory. I mean if you're super interested in the guy than this book is probably for you, if you're mildly interested I'd say probably not.
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on July 16, 2012
This is the 3rd Ron Chernow book I've read after "Washington: A Life" and "Alexander Hamilton". Titan is the biography of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., who was the founder of "Standard Oil". The book tells his story from his youth to the end of his long life (he lived to 97).

John D's dad was a very interesting con man who was loving to his family, but deserted the family for long stretches of time, ultimately leaving the family and assumed another identity. He married another woman while still married to John D's mother. John D's mother raised the family deeply religious Baptists, never knowing about her husband's other life.

The family never went hungry, but they struggled to get by, and John D learned to be thrifty and learned the value of money. As he grew up, through hard work and luck, he got into oil refining after oil was discovered in 1859 nearby. He became a master at organization and ultimately his "Standard Oil" company controlled almost all the oil business in the USA. John D got fantastically rich, eventually becoming the richest man in the world.

John D was a very private man who's life was a total contradiction. All his life he remained extremely religious and donated large amounts of money to charities. On the other hand when it came to business he was totally cutthroat, extremely cunning and greedy, and was one of the most hated men in America. While reading this book, you will feel much admiration for the man one minute, then feel that he was one of the worst human beings that ever lived.

As cutthroat and greedy as he was at business, he retired before he was 60 and devoted the rest of his life to giving away most of his money for causes to better mankind (religion, charity, education, and medical research). As an old man, he was pretty much forgiven by the press for all his past deeds and he became much admired for all his generosity.

This book is almost 700 pages and explains John D's life quite thoroughly and has a lot of good pictures. I really enjoyed reading it, as I did Ron Chernow's other two books.
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