Vanderbilt: the very name signifies wealth. The family patriarch, "the Commodore," built up a fortune that made him the world's richest man by 1877. Yet, less than fifty years after the Commodore's death, one of his direct descendants died penniless, and no Vanderbilt was counted among the world's richest people. Fortune's Children tells the dramatic story of all the amazingly colorful spenders who dissipated such a vast inheritance.
Among the author's earlier books is Changing Laws, an award-winning biography of his grandfather, Arthur T. Vanderbilt. His latest history, witty, entertaining and sad, also merits a prize for the writer, a lawyer and one among many members of the fabled family who inherited the Vanderbilt name but not the wealth. ``The Commodore'' (1794-1877) made $105 million by hook and by crook; Alva, wife of the founding father's son William, went on spending sprees that later heirs followed. Stories about the author's ancestors have been told before, but not so vividly as in his evocations of the snobbery, ostentation and profligacy that caused ``the fall of the House of Vanderbilt.'' Today's Vanderbilts are not rich-rich; the money is gone with the clan's grand homes, felled by wrecking balls in New York and elsewhere, leaving only memories of a singular time in the American past. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC alternate.
Interesting read, going East in the spring planning on a visit to Newport and seeing all the homes mentioned.
A splendid history
A concise , detailed history of American aristocracy.
Written so well, so smooth, and with such precise
detail, that it is one long splendid dream of the gilded age. Extremely interesting, informative, and haunting.
Easy Come Easy Go
The book is well written. The author doesn't shy away from the unpleasant aspects of his family's history. It is a little hard to justify spending the time to read about these people. They are almost entirely frivolous, spendthrift characters after generation two. It is a window into a different time and society, and pretty disgusting really. So basically, a lot of money was made by a few Vanderbilt's and it was wasted and almost entirely gone in 5 or 6 generations.