Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty

Narrated by:
Anderson Cooper
Price: $27.99 $6.99

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
September 2021
8 hours 50 minutes
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.

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.
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Dina G.

So disappointed as it seems the author didn’t have an objective perspective. His family ties and his apparent desire to disassociate from them is evident.

I’ve listened to 3 books including this one and the one thing I really liked is how the provided back stories really add context to the content. I’ve listened to it several times

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Susan B.

I enjoyed every chapter! I grew up in Newport, R. I. and learned to sail when I was 12. I remember the America’s Cup races! Anderson’s chapter on the America Cup race was exciting! I have visited the Breakers many times, it’s a real treasure! Learning the history of the Vanderbilt family was made made even more enjoyable by Anderson’s narration.

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Loved this.

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John F.

Enjoyed Anderson Cooper as the narrator. Story got a little tedious.

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Steve M.

I was hoping to learn more about how their money was made in detail not what someone wore to a ball. Terrible book.

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Suzi G.

All this book is about is enslaved blacks. Anderson Cooper BARELY even mentions his Vanderbilt origins. He can ONLY rant on & on about slavery. Condemning how the man that created the Vanderbilt fortune did it basically, by accident & luck, & how there is NO such thing as "The American Dream". That even if you work hard, you'll never prosperity. If you want a white reporter rant on black slavery, then this is the book for you! If you want TRUE historical account of the Vanderbilt dynasty, then ABSOLUTELY suggest; "Little Gloria...Happy at Last" by Barbara Goldsmith.

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Excellent read. So interesting to hear the stories about this time period fri someone whose family was part of that legacy.

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