Vanderbilt: Book summary and reviews of Vanderbilt by Anderson Cooper

Vanderbilt

The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty

by Anderson Cooper

Vanderbilt by Anderson Cooper X
Vanderbilt by Anderson Cooper
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  • Published Sep 2021
    336 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

New York Times bestselling author and journalist Anderson Cooper teams with New York Times bestselling historian and novelist Katherine Howe to chronicle the rise and fall of a legendary American dynasty - his mother's family, the Vanderbilts.

When eleven-year-old Cornelius Vanderbilt began to work on his father's small boat ferrying supplies in New York Harbor at the beginning of the nineteenth century, no one could have imagined that one day he would, through ruthlessness, cunning, and a pathological desire for money, build two empires—one in shipping and another in railroads—that would make him the richest man in America. His staggering fortune was fought over by his heirs after his death in 1877, sowing familial discord that would never fully heal. Though his son Billy doubled the money left by "the Commodore," subsequent generations competed to find new and ever more extraordinary ways of spending it. By 2018, when the last Vanderbilt was forced out of The Breakers—the seventy-room summer estate in Newport, Rhode Island, that Cornelius's grandson and namesake had built—the family would have been unrecognizable to the tycoon who started it all.

Now, the Commodore's great-great-great-grandson Anderson Cooper, joins with historian Katherine Howe to explore the story of his legendary family and their outsized influence. Cooper and Howe breathe life into the ancestors who built the family's empire, basked in the Commodore's wealth, hosted lavish galas, and became synonymous with unfettered American capitalism and high society. Moving from the hardscrabble wharves of old Manhattan to the lavish drawing rooms of Gilded Age Fifth Avenue, from the ornate summer palaces of Newport to the courts of Europe, and all the way to modern-day New York, Cooper and Howe wryly recount the triumphs and tragedies of an American dynasty unlike any other.

Written with a unique insider's viewpoint, this is a rollicking, quintessentially American history as remarkable as the family it so vividly captures.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A dramatic tale expertly told of rapacious ambition, decadent excess, and covert and overt tyranny and trauma...With resplendent detail, the authors capture the gasp-eliciting extravagance of the Vanderbilt Gilded Age mansions...With its intrinsic empathy and in-depth profiles of women, this is a distinctly intimate, insightful, and engrossing chronicle of an archetypal, self-consuming American dynasty...Irresistible." - Booklist (starred review)

"Suicides, affairs, bad business deals, fierce rivalries, and occasionally an outburst of good sense (as when Billy Vanderbilt doubled his inheritance in just eight years, amassing $230 million) mark these pages along with moments of tragedy, such as the loss of one ancestor in the sinking of the Lusitania. A sturdy family history that also serves as a pointed lesson in how to lose a fortune." - Kirkus Reviews

"Marked by meticulous research and deep emotional insight, this is a memorable chronicle of American royalty." - Publishers Weekly

This information about Vanderbilt was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper joined CNN in 2001 and has anchored his own program, Anderson Cooper 360°, since March 2003. Cooper has won 18 Emmys and numerous other major journalism awards. He lives in New York with his son, Wyatt.

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