|About the Book|
It is 1876. As Cornelius Vanderbilt lies close to death in his lavish New York townhouse, theres an almost carnival-like atmosphere outside as the reporters who made him a household name gather to wait for the end. But in the last of a lifetime ofMoreIt is 1876. As Cornelius Vanderbilt lies close to death in his lavish New York townhouse, theres an almost carnival-like atmosphere outside as the reporters who made him a household name gather to wait for the end. But in the last of a lifetime of surprises, cantankerous old Vanderbilt unexpectedly allows one of the journalists inside. Hes tired of the lies. He intends to make sure his story is told, the true story of how a dirt-poor farm kid from Staten Island grew up to be one of Americas first tycoons: admired by the public, consulted by Presidents, feared by his business rivals and, for the most part, unloved by the eleven children he treated with impatience. At first the reporter is only interested in the core of the story, how a boy groomed by an illiterate father in a family that has been plagued by poverty and misfortune, could end up the richest man in the world. How did that happen? My readers want to know, he tells the crusty old man. Whats your secret? Was it shrewdness? Ferocious ambition? The incredible force of his will? Vanderbilt tells his story with the clarity that comes from looking back. It is as if it had all been preordained by Vanderbilts vision. He was a man possessed. He described himself as crazy on the subject of money. He thought of little else every day, morning, noon and night. How to make money drove all of his decisions, led him wherever that question pointed. Soon, however, another dynamic emerges. The reporter realizes hes on to the biggest scoop of his career. Vanderbilts original intention may have been a final effort to shape his legacy, but as he moves closer to death he tosses away all inhibitions. Memories pour out of him. Hes trying to get a handle on them, make sense of it all. He is half way to hell. He has stopped sleeping. Nightmares startle him awake. Theyre always about the same thing, his father coming to kill him Drawing on his wealth of experience as a psychiatrist, observing the complex streams running through the human psyche, which can thrive under unimaginable adversity, Simon Sobo paints a fascinating portrait of the powerful driven man who called himself Commodore.