An in-depth biography of Sir Thomas Lipton, the founder of Lipton Tea-a portrait of a remarkable self-made man and intrepid sailor.
Today Lipton means tea. However, in his time Sir Thomas Lipton was known for much more. Raised in desperate poverty, he became rich beyond his wildest dreams. He built a global empire of markets, factories, plantations, and stockyards. And his colorful pursuit of the America's Cup trophy made him a beloved figure on both sides of the Atlantic.
In A Full Cup, Michael D'Antonio tells the tale of this larger- than-life figure. Beginning with a journey across the United States just after the Civil War, Thomas J. Lipton developed the ambition and learned the business techniques that helped him create the first chain of grocery stores. Wealthy before the age of thirty, he set his sights on the tea trade, and soon his name became synonymous with his product. Lipton's great business success makes for a compelling story of innovation and achievement. Moreover, though, Lipton's most intriguing creation was a public persona-one of the first formed with the help of a modern mass media-that appealed to millions of ordinary people, as well as the elites in America and Europe. Concocting simple stunts like elephant parades, Lipton mastered the new art of obtaining free publicity. With shameless self-promotion, he became one of the world's most eligible bachelors, a patron of the poor, and ultimately reached legendary heights when he revived the competition for the America's Cup. With one losing attempt after another, the gallant Lipton, who didn't even know how to sail his own yacht, became ever more popular. D'Antonio's biography brings to vivid life this remarkable figure.
Lipton, the world's first millionaire sportsman, revolutionized the world of tea before sinking millions of dollars into a thwarted quest to win the America's Cup for England. D'Antonio excels at capturing the excitement of the races, and the good sportsmanship that endeared Lipton to America and England both. Lipton seems to have vanished into history, and D'Antonio is to be commended for capturing him so thoroughly but the author falls short in effectively exploring two intriguing, and important, aspects of Lipton's life: His long residence with another man, and his support for Irish independence (while maintaining close ties with English royalty). While D'Antonio does point out that "if Lipton had relationships with men, indiscretion would inevitably mean the loss of his reputation, his business and possibly his freedom," he leaves it at that, suggesting a choice to avoid less savory aspects of Lipton's life and giving the impression that the author is treading water. D'Antonio deserves praise for bringing Lipton's remarkable life to our attention, even if we end up wishing he'd probed further. Photos.