John D. Rockefeller, Sr., historical past’s first billionaire and the patriarch of America’s most well-known dynasty, is an icon whose true nature has eluded three generations of historians. Now Ron Chernow, a Nationwide E-book Award-winning biographer, provides us an in depth and insightful historical past of the mogul. Titan is the primary full-length biography primarily based on unrestricted entry to Rockefeller’s exceptionally wealthy trove of papers. A landmark publication stuffed with startling revelations, the e book indelibly alters our picture of this most enigmatic capitalist. Born the son of a flamboyant, bigamous snake-oil salesman and a pious, straitlaced mom, Rockefeller rose from rustic origins to grow to be the world’s richest man by creating America’s strongest and feared monopoly, Normal Oil. Branded “the Octopus” by legions of muckrakers, the belief refined and marketed almost 90 p.c of the oil produced in America. Rockefeller was probably probably the most controversial businessman in our nation’s historical past. Critics charged that his empire was constructed on unscrupulous techniques: grand-scale collusion with the railroads, predatory pricing, industrial espionage, and wholesale bribery of political officers. The titan spent greater than 30 years dodging investigations till Teddy Roosevelt and his trustbusters launched into a marathon campaign to convey Normal Oil to bay. Whereas offering plentiful proof of Rockefeller’s misdeeds, Chernow discards the stereotype of the cold-blooded monster to sketch an unforgettably human portrait of a unusual, eccentric unique. A religious Baptist and temperance advocate, Rockefeller gave cash extra generously than anybody earlier than him – his chosen philanthropies included the Rockefeller Basis, the College of Chicago, and what’s at the moment Rockefeller College. Titan presents a finely nuanced portrait of an interesting, complicated man, synthesizing his private and non-private lives and disclosing quite a few household scandals, tragedies, and misfortunes which have by no means earlier than come to mild. John D. Rockefeller’s story captures a pivotal second in American historical past, documenting the dramatic submit–Civil Battle shift from small enterprise to the rise of large firms that irrevocably remodeled 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 right into a vivid tapestry of American society within the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It’s Ron Chernow’s sign triumph that he writes this monumental saga with all of the sweep, drama, and perception that this large topic deserves.
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