Vanderbilt: the Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty

The fiascos of fortune in an American family.

Journalist and author Anderson Cooper explores his ancestry from the 1800s to present day. In retelling the intriguing history of this American family, their fate and their fortune, from Cooper’s great great-great-grandfather Cornelius Vanderbilt to his mother Gloria Vanderbilt, he interweaves the history of the United States, including the sinking of the Titanic and the attack on the RMS Lusitania, with crisp, moving detail. The experiences of the Vanderbilt members highlight America’s own physical, economic and cultural transformation over the last two hundred years, to include the role of women.

I don’t consider myself an avid reader of history or biography. Nor was I familiar with the Vanderbilts beyond seeing Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in Hong Kong markets as a teenager. However, I found this to be an intriguing blend of the history of America woven into the saga of one of its legendary families.

Cooper not only narrated this title with a professional yet personal tone, the stories are relatable and touching because of so many universal themes in family experiences, such as the struggle with pursuing your dreams against your parents’ wishes and disputes over fortunes.

This is a fascinating and stirring read for lovers of American history, biographies, and the Vanderbilts.

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