The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt - Fortune's Children

By Arthur T Vanderbilt II

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rambu
I enjoyed this book, looking back at the excesses of the gilded age. Very entertaining and well written, with a lesson to be learned for our materialistic society
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rahul
Great book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lemonpoop
Thorough Certainly must have been difficult to coordinate all the data
Harvester (Book 1, Harvester of Light Trilogy) :: Flare: An End of the World Philosophical Horror :: Books 1-3 (Outage Horror Suspense Series) - Outage Boxed Set :: Land of Shadows (The Legend Of The Gate Keeper Book 1) :: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kandice chew
Interesting book just to long
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
janie lange
really well written, and I'm a trained writer. so interesting.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alana
Interesting family! Great descriptions of the Vanderbilt family members and of the family wealth and extravagances.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
justin wright
I ordered this book after I read the the store reviews, and I have to say this is the rare occasion that the reviews were 'off.' It's an interesting volume but is no where near as captivating as the story of Huguette Clark in Empty Mansions.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
paige renfro
Great book. Read it in 2 days as I couldn't put it down.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
markus mcdowell
Interesting g book...too long!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
aleksandar rudic
Living in Henderonville County and visiting Biltmore multiple times I found the book to be interesting in adding bits and pieces to my knowledge of family and Biltmore Estate.
A b it long and dry but overall a good read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
vinoaj vijeyakumaar
This book is fascinating reading. The anomaly that wealth creates is frightening especially in light of the comments that many of the Vanderbilts made concerning the negative effects of life that being born into wealth creates.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
d barger
I truly enjoyed this detailed account of the Vanderbilt Family story. The book is well written!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
emily boyd
Loved it
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tristan child
It is a descriptive story of the high social life in NYC at that time period. You might think it is a soap opera if it wasn't true.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
traci
A well written People Magazine on the Vanderbilts. Tragedy abounds and money does not buy happiness. Wish some of the houses had been historically saved.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
becca
Well written and very informative.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
juliebaby
Very interesting details of the goings on of the Vanderbilt family.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kaitlyn tucek
Fascinating book. Well written as well as informative. FIVE stars
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sara johansson
I haven't finished the book but it is just as I wanted. The history of the family and the era is great.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
still fetalvero
Interesting and easy read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mamafeelgood
Great, all around.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ursula
Interesting read about one of the most famous families of the Gilded age. I enjoyed the insight into the lifestyle of the super rich of the 19th century.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
laura mccaskill
A very frank account of the Vanderbilt Family from how they made their fortune to how each generation spent it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
shatha
Very good, being rich doesn't always make a better life nor does giving some of it away make up for destroying the lives of so many others.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
marcia mcnally
I enjoyed this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andreanna nafie wynkoop
Great book - held your interest and attention from start to finish.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
aydin
A spectacular read. One of the best chronologies of a Gilded Age family that has been written. To peer not this era is like remembering a dream once one has awoken. I highly recommend this book to anyone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
berke
Well written and held my interest. Nice historic read of a time in American history like no other, good read
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
priya
Great read
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
danica ingram
If you saw Downton Abbey series, you must read this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
marianna
This was a quick, light read. Very informative about the first families with "new" money in America.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
grey853
Very interesting book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
natalie pinedo
Good
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tanner boothby
This was a good book if you are interested in the Vanderbilt fortune and children.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marihonu
Saw the recent Gloria Vanderbilt interview with her son, Anderson Cooper. Looked for a book, and based on the store reviews, this was a winner; you won't be disappointed. Fascinating family history, New York society, the marriages of their children, the building of their estates is fascinating.
I found myself sidetracked by googling some of their former addresses to see current pictures of a few of their properties and then reading more. Excellent read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tamika
Great story about the Gilded Age. Very interesting family history.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sefali
Very good, and informative. So interesting, the gilded age!!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
yedidya
Very interesting view of a vast fortune made and lost through the generations of the Vanderbilt family.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
adityo sastromuljono
Outstanding book...........very well written...........would definitely recommend to read........wonderful insight to a world that once existed in the United States.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nick amenta
WOW! Talk about wretched excess and out of control egos. This appears to be a family of weak men and insanely avaricious women who married them. I'm sure the Commodore would like to rewrite history.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
hadi nor
Interesting
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sary fairchild
Compelling read!!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
despina
I haven't finished this yet, however, what I've read so far is great. The story is very interesting and well written. I plan on reading more books by this author. Enjoy
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sandeep massey
Everything was great,
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
daniel tasayco
EXCELLENT book! Great read with a lot of history. Never boring.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amy forster
My sister suggested this book since we are visiting Newport this fall.
The Vanderbilts are just as sorry as the Kennedy family.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
anda
The author, gave a very detailed "picture" of the Vanderbilt family. The book was well researched and the details were enlightening.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
tracy thomas
Would have been nice to have had a diagram of the family tree to follow - my Kindle didn't have one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
santacular
Excellent account of history of 'The Gilded Age'. Many insights rarely
Shared in other books of the same magnitude. Very interesting.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
aahzmandius
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Gilded Age. It is a fascinating story about the richest people in the world and their greed.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jason saldanha
Somewhat disappointing. Not as full of scandal and mis-steps as the other reviews might lead you to believe. Often a little muddy to get through. Still, interesting to learn more about a family that remains at the height of social respect today, despite their significant steps down the ladder.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kasra
Too much verbage spent on minor and uninteresting characters. Otherwise ok
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julia b
Hard to put this book down! Read it fast - very interesting. Also really enjoyed the photo's - put's face on the characters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nikki0283
Great book
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
svnh
I was fascinated by the lifestyle. Although I knew of the accomplishments and the riches, I was unaware of the family stories and the details which led to the "fall".
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
manuela d az
A good overview of the lives of the "1%" during the Gilded Age.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kris evans paull
Very fascinating look into the lives of Americas former rich and famous.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
juniper
very good reading lots of history in how usa so built and fast the money when in the family GONE
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nesnesnes
Melds personalities with their historical perspective. Very interesting factually supported rendition of the rise and fall of a great family.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
oana maries
Fascinating!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anouk martin
This is an excellent book for anyone who has ever wondered how some family's keep their wealth and others are back to working class in 3 generations? This book explains it with interesting true facts of the lives of the family of the richest man in the world Cornelius Vanderbilt and the unsustainable lifestyles they loved.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
abby schwarz
I liked this family saga that expands around hundred years, new to me about gilded years of America how the money came by hard work and lost by extravagant spending
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sasha8
Amazingly researched!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
amanda nissen
Very good and interesting book!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
murali
An interesting read about the Vanderbilts, but not much that's new here. The author covers in great detail the rise of Cornelius V. and the custody trial of little Gloria V. but sheds no additional light on things that haven't already received a lot of publicity. So, its a bit of a re-hash of things I've already heard before.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
erin book
Entertaining. A little too
Much of the society information and not as much on the financial side.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sakshi gopal
Interesting read - if you're considering it, it's worth your time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
febin
Great read.Riches beyond belief.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brian ayres
This book is so interesting it's actually the first book I haven't been able to
put down since I read Gone With The Wind years ago. I was so disappointed
the first time I saw the movie of Gone With The Wind, because it didn't hold a candle to the book. I purchased the
Kindle version of Fortune's Children I didn't put my Kindle down for 3 days! This book was recommended to me by the store based on my prior purchases and I couldn't be more pleased.

Thank you!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
erin condran
Very well writeen interesting story
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dylan lawrence
Fascinating and thorough biography
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rod dunsmore
Couldn't put it down. Intriguing view of society in that era. And the how people couldn't spend more money fast enough
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ian o gorman
Very interesting, didn't want to put it down.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elsie
Living in Asheville, NC and visiting the Biltmore Estate numerous times yearly, it was a most interesting read.
Fame and fortune isn't all that it appears to be.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
virginia reynolds
I enjoy the history of our country and these people played their part. Money can certainly not assure happiness but it makes for an interesting lifestyle.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
susanlsimon simon
Too long!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bridgit
outstanding book to enjoy, very attentive reading. inspired me.
by the vanderbilt family lineage. rateing five star.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ali shahab
Just very interesting reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sebom
Super entertaining, well-written, and highly educative.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
thulasi ram
I was a little disappointed with the small amount of information specifically regarding Biltmore!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ondra krajtl
I never retread books..... However, this is one I seem to want to read again and again! I am always amazed to read this history and am always left baffled at the sad lives this wealth has brought to its family. It's hard to keep a Who Begat Who list straight in your head without a family tree diagram.... Make one yourself while you are reading.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
shannon miya
I enjoyed the historic value of the book but felt the author just couldn't set a pace and stick with it, repeating some stories of certain Vanderbilt family members over and over to the point I became bored. I did manage to get through the book in spite of the fact that it didn't flow well for my personal taste.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
pinkayla
Well written...informative.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
unai
Behind the scene of the rise, fall and folly of the rich of America. Where much is given, as much can be lost.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tamara
Loved it. Hard to strike the right balance between all the facts and a good read, but this does it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
batac slothboy
The author did a good job of capturing not only the opulence of the life styles but the personalities of each individuals.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
david crompton
Interesting story; truly horrendous digital edition. Beset by typos, inverted characters and footnotes that were way too intrusive (typeface and color). And precious few pictures, which in this sort of bio are expected and required.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
poupee
Fantastic and accurate research went into this book. An amazing look into one of the most notable families of the Gilded Age
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shawne
Research for this book was well done. It is written in a manner which
places you at the scene. I just loved reading it and will no doubt read it over again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
spiros
Extremely interesting account of the demise of the Vanderbilt fortune. Obviously, this will not be available at the Biltmore Estate bookshop!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kevin o connell
I visited Biltmore Estate with my family in October. I wanted to know more about the Vanderbilt family so I bought this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about what could have been a very dry topic. This author brought the family to life for me. I recommend this book if you want to know the Vanderbilt history...how they made their money and how they managed to spend most of it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
beka
Yes, lots of good detail. Maybe too much detail, kind of research-paper-like. So many books I've bought that hold some promise until a monotony sets in about a third of the way through, and I really don't care anymore. I think I'm about a third of the way through this, and it is proving to be one of the many.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alison howard
Fantastic book- lots of detailed information. Well written.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mike allen
A great read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alex v
this was an erudite, thoroughly researched tome on the cultural history of Iceland - concentrating on the literary and economic/rural and social/rural aspects over the country's long and uniform history. not for the casual travel looking for a bit of background, but for one who wants to begin a deep study of the island. It should be complimented with a typical historical study of Iceland - one of which i could NOT find available on kindle books for sale...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
emily ann meyer
Most interesting about a family that once had so much control and now has nothing
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amanda hawley
Fascinating read!!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joann hutto
We went to the Biltmore mansion this summer and I was interested in the history of this family. I loved this book. The title of this book is "fortune's children", but it covers entire history of Vanderbilt family from the first generation. It was also very attractive to me the society of gilded age rich people in NYC in this book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
bill schroer
Great read!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
roberto musa giuliano
Interesting, well-written story about an American family and their times. I'm not sure why it didn't receive better reviews when it was published. Recently read that HBO is planning on doing a 1-hour encapsulation of the story. Can't do it justice--a mini-series or a full-length movie would be better.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
carr jacquelyn
If you ever craved great riches, this story will turn you against ever wanting such wealth. Some of the women who married into the Vanderbilt line spent so wantonly that it begs understanding. They may have considered themselves aristocrats but their behavior was abominable.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
aiysha duncan
Great book
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shawks bell
Fabulous! I have loaned this book to many people.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mackenzie gentry
interesting to read..
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
natasha orgass
The story is very interesting, but the book is extremely long and repetitive, it is difficult to follow because it jumps from one time to another. Sometimes it describe with extreme detail every party repeating constantly the same idea.
I like the book because it gave me a good idea of the aristocracy and there values an fights. I enjoy the first part very much. Later on it was hard to follow. It has very good information
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
celina willis
Good read about the curse of money and how it colored everyone's lives. It was a burden to them all.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
judy demma
Excellent! Fascinating family! Did more for America's charity than most know.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
chris lockey
As the title indicates this is not about how Cornelius Vanderbilt built the family fortune but how his grandsons and granddaughters managed to dissipate the family fortune. I was especially interested in how the Cecil branch of the family have kept control of the Biltmore Estate near Asheville, N.C.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laura hall
i HAVE READ A LOT OF BOOKS ON THE VANDERBILT'S AND THIS ONE IS AMONG THE BEST
EACH MEMBER OF THE FAMILY IS COVERED HERE FROM BEGINNING TO END
IF YOU WANT MORE INFO ON GLORIA I RECOMMEND LITTLE GLORIA HAPPY AT LAST
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
michal w
Money doesn't always buy everything. It is a fascinating history of a family that made sooooo much money and spent it just as quickly. Truly amazing stories of the excesses of the age.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jackieo
Loved this book! Fascinating!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
sarah flynn
I guess I didn't like reading about some of the not so nice people in the family - but it was interesting what people will do with money - especially Alva.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
baco
I enjoyed reading the Fortune's Children" by Arthur T. Vanderbilt a brilliantly written book and so much more.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
doryen chin
Had read this on my iPad and thought my mother would like it, but being 92, felt that the hard copy would be easiest to read.. Well written and very interesting. Almost all the wealth was lost by the 3rd generation. Highly recommend
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
connor rushen
I thought this book was going to be a little more interesting and would keep my attention. I found some of the chapters fairly interesting while others were downright tedious Only a few of the Vanderbilt's seemed to have any worthy character. It is a sad commentary on the extreme idle rich which never seem to find their lives worthwhile nor content.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
abe poetra
Very interesting read..
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jan watson
Don't be fooled by publisher try to use the popularity of Downton Abbey to sell the book. The Vanderbilt's are nothing like Downton Abbey or the Crawley's. Ridiculous! If you want to read about the rise and fall within 100 years of a family, this is your book. Wish the author had included a family tree to keep track of who is who and who are they descended from besides Cornelius Vanderbilt.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
byron seese
I live in Mexico City. I am mexican.
Let's see how the Slim family does once "The Engineer" is gone !!
Interesting part of the US history.
It is probably this phase in history that Mexico is going through. Monopolies and all...
I strongly recomend this book not only because of all the gossip on how extremely people live. It gives us all a lesson on what happens when you center your life on spending vs investing.
That is probably at the center of the current global economic situation: everybody wants to live like a Vanderbilt !!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
gmostafa
Great insight int to the history but comes to a quick close about how all the money was lost. Great history and colorful characters. If you want to learn more about them, this is a great place to start.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
arya
Bought it for my wife who said it is a great read about a topic she loves. Can't wait to get my chance!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
hala al abed
I enjoyed the book itself, but I expect a book with a publisher to be edited even in Kindle form. Too many typos.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
roger aplon
Amazing story of the famous family. Really gives you a gllmpse of the era and all behind the scenes social life and business machinations.
Fascnating read.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
shelby porscha
It is very informative, however, it gets a bit slow or maybe I should say boring due to excessive coverage of the many highbrow parties.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ismail zahirovic
Like others before that rated this book, lots and lots of typos and editorial errors. Having said that, a fascinating look at this family and how they made and lost their money. Talk about over the top entertaining. Having visited Biltmore Estate many times, it was enjoyable to read about the construction of the home and the surrounding properties. Each one tried to out do the other with lavish parties and houses. A fun read - would recommend.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
ayesha sadiq
Not an uplifting kind of book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
olsy vinoli arnof
my kind of book..great
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ranjeeta
I have been reading history of the Vanderbilt's for a few years now. It is great to see how it used to be in the US.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
al r
In the geographical description on page 8, "It (ferry Bellona) ran from Elizabethtown Point up the Raritan River to New Brunswick,..." It turns out New Brunswick is on the south of Elizabethtown. So, the correction should be that Bellona ran from E. Point down (***) the Raritan River.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
anu rajaraman
The story is just not interesting enough or memorable enough to keep my interest so after 100 pages, I gave up.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
linda grischy
Stupid people with stupid money.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
karen lapuk
I LOVE THIS BOOK.
I can read it again & again & never get tired dreaming about the characters described in this book & the lives they lived.
It takes you from beginning to end.
Pennies on a Dollar????
A Lesson to be Learned.
Never to be forgotten.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
elisha wagman
A thoughtful inside examination of the origin and dissipation of family wealth. Reminds us all that the drive and determination that fuel a fortune is not frequently inherited by subsequent generations. Success does not always breed success.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
hiyuki
Well written and interesting. The story of the Vanderbilts is a sad story of excess and pride. Few of them were happy. A good caution against living for material things.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ajay kalyankar
I still have not read this book but will be reading it in the near future.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
caleb h
Living in Asheville, NC and visiting the Biltmore Estate frequently, this book puts a whole new meaning on my visits. It is a sad book in that the fortune's built by the Vanderbilt's elders, were lost on foolishness by their ancestors. The opulence in their lifestyle, and trying to out do others in "high" society, in order to make a name for themselves, is just plain silly. All of the money they spent on foolishness could have made a huge difference in the society of their times in philanthropist ways. The book is a lesson for all of us. It reminds us, that in the end, was it really necessary? Was it really worth it? What could I have done differently to make life better for someone less fortunate that me?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tara mcgovern
I enjoyed the book as I love Newport RI. It's a fantastic place to visit and I always wanted to know more about the Vanderbilt's, Asters,etc.. The author made the reader feel a part of the novel. I highly recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sheri fyfe
I love to read about how people spend ridiculous amounts of money. This well written book did that in spades!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
parisa h taheri
too much about how they became rich and not enough spicy gossip
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
fbpoint
I really enjoy NY history and this book seemed to include allsorts of interesting facts.
There were a lot of characters and occasionly I wasn't quite sure who was who.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
saman kashi
FAN-TASTIC~! Could not put it down~!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
satya sudheer
Ten pages was all I could do. Boring !!!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
chetan
I did not read this as it was a gift to my daughter who enjoyed readaing all of it after visiting Vanderbilt homes.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
josh spurgin
Not impressed, it reads like a documentary, I expected a novel
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nahla alarbi
Here we are given an overview of the rise and fall of the Vanderbilt family from the Commodore, who built the family fortune to the decline of the family throughout the first half of the twentieth century. The book concentrates on the eccentric characters in the family--and there were a lot of them. It's mostly a sad story, because not many of the family were ever happy or content for long. In addition to the well known excessive spending on garish homes and yachts that had to be ever grander to outdo other family members, there were unfortunate marriages that were more like mergers than love stories. There were divorces, infidelities, parents pitted against children to either push the child into a marriage or to prevent a marriage to a fortune hunter. The brothers in each generation were often rivals, trying to become the favored one who would inherit the largest chunk of the money. The women had a strange game of trying to be top dog so that they could be THE Mrs. Vanderbilt, rather than merely A Mrs. Vanderbilt. There also were an unusual number of young family members who died in accidents or from sudden illnesses. It was a fascinating story, and I recommend the book.

A few reviewers mentioned problems with the Kindle version needing editing. This is true. For some reason, the text did not translate over to the ebook totally correctly. There are weird problems with certain words being misspelled. For instance, the word "your" is often written as "tour." However, this does not happen all that often, and I didn't have a problem understanding what the author meant to write. Still, in an ebook from a major publisher with a relatively high price for a Kindle book, this kind of sloppiness is not acceptable. Still, I didn't want to take away from the author's rating on this book, so I didn't deduct any stars for the ebook glitch.

A few things would have made the book a little better. I wished for a family tree chart to keep everybody and their relationships to others in the family straight. The Vanderbilts kept using the same names over and over. The author did make quite an effort to differenuate this Corneilus from that Corneulus, but it was still confusing at times. Also, I wish he had not ended the book without talking about later generations of the family. What is the current generation up to? I guess it is the sign of a good book, when the reader wants to know more.

I was impressed with the way the author just presented the facts, and did not take sides in conflicts. For instance, in the custody trial for Little Gloria, it's up to the reader to decide for him or herself whether she belonged with her mother or her aunt. He also does not play amateur psychologist, trying to assign motives and feelings to people's actions. One thing that I did question however, was including excerpts from Gertrude's teenage diary to try to paint her as a rebellious daughter who actually hated her mother. What teenager has not at one time or another said that s/he hated his/her mother in a fit of teen angst.

Of course, many of the Vanderbilts chose to live in a dramatic, larger than life fashion, so the author does have quite a lot of very interesting material, and he does take full advantage of it in this very interesting book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
sion rodriguez y gibson
It was an interesting review of gilded age. Could have used a family tree to keep things on track..going back and forth between families did get a bit confusing... repetitive...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ansley gower
What a great read! I could hardly put it down. Better than anything else I've read about these people.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mary v
Just ok. Guess I wasn't really interested in greed,dirty tricks, and rich people loosing money.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
viscant
Arrived in good shape!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sarahjean
If you are planning atrip to New Port RI. This is a must read. It lets you know about the people that lived in those great houses.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer waye
Great and interesting book
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ranjanks
interesting book
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sirdossantos
Facinating story of the Vanderbilt family. As an annual member of the Biltmore Estate for years, I learned more than I ever got from their tours.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sue lush
okay
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andressa
The Vanderbilts remind me of when I was roaming around Versailles thinking to myself "No wonder the peasants revolted and cut off their heads. This kind of wealth and power is obscene." However, the story is fascinating. Nothing here is really new and often seems repeated verbatim from other sources both online and offline. The founder of the Vanderbilt line, the Commodore, is quite entertaining. No matter what you think of the robber barons of the 1800s, could our country's infrastructure and expansion have happened without this type of tough old buzzard? The story of the wives (Alice and Grace in particular) proves that long before "The Real Housewives" reality TV, vapid, self absorbed women have always been at the forefront of the genepools of the rich. The story of Biltmore and Florham estates is good reading and the statistics of what it took to keep these properties from Manhattan to Newport up and running will boggle the mind. I have enjoyed it so much that I'm planning a visit to Biltmore (still in family hands) to see it for myself.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
najila
The treatment of some family members was exhaustive while once over lightly for others.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
john niedermeyer
Boring
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
catherine macken
Ok
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
louis pz
A dificult read in teresting but gos very slow
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
randy lander
it was a gift and she loved it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
becky johnson
If you like history, and especially the "guilded age," you will enjoy this book about the Vanderbilts. They had more money than common sense, in many cases, resulting in soap opera-like behaviors and scandals. Their rise and fall makes for good reading.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
rayan
Slow slow slow
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
abdullaziz
I have read several books on the Vanderbilt's and have been several times to the Biltmore in Asheville, NC. The names rambled on and on.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
maggard
Tedious book but interesting insight into old New York.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer still
Loved this. Interesting, full of great facts.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nasim salehi
Great condition. Excellent book
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jeani
Written by a Vanderbilt about the Vanderbilt family - truly interesting and hard to put down!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
katherine taveras
A detailed book of the rise and fall of the Vanderbilt fortune. Unfortunately Cornelius was totally unpleasant person. I found that I really did not care what happened to the family. The book does perpetuate the stereotype of the very rich as callous and greedy. Perhaps not the best book for you if you are fretting over the excesses of the current 1%ers.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cassandra boykins
interesting and, I thought, well written - and the liberals think the wealthy are bad now!! they should read this book
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
wes davis
I live near the Biltmore House. This book gave an insight to the Vanderbilt's I had never considered. A good read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nahla alarbi
Fascinating book! Loved it
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
susan campbell
Very interesting but poorly written. I can some up the story this way: a grand fortune was made by hard work and gumption. Subsequent generations spent it all.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
parag khanna
Sad to see what became of this wealthy family. The story wasn't written in a way that kept my attention. Read only if you don't know anything about the Vanderbilt family.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nikki grossfeld
Lov d it
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
a mary
A very illuminating description of a period of time in the country when industrialist were establishing their empires. However the narrative wanders into descriptions of the personalities of the members of the Vanderbilt family over time in a manner that would seem difficult to portray with accuracy and therefore one wonders about the accuracy of much of this family history. Also there were large sections of the book devoted to the more social aspects of how the rich interacted and competed for leadership of that layer of society which were not of particular interest to me, but may be to others.

To be honest I haven't finished the book, but I will, because my principle interest is the design and construction of the Biltmore mansion which we visited recently.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dancomfort
Great book! Interesting read.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
stephen hnatow
Maybe its me... But.. Hard to focus on the lineage. Halfway through.. Sure hope book pulls all these characters together! Fun gossip etc.. However... Was hoping for more actual historical value.... Easy to put down...
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
catriona
Could not get past the awful women in the book - wanted to throttle them all. What a waste of money, which could have done so much good
for so many.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
dylan platt
The most disgusting family I have ever read about!!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
jonny
This is a compilation of the stories from the gossip pages of New York papers. We don't need 20 pages on one costume party.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
semccarney
If you expect this book to be about the loss of a family's wealth, then you should readjust your expectations before reading. This is mostly about several generations of (very intense and fascinating) family drama. There are a lot of descriptions about Gilded Age balls and Newport mansions. Only the last 30% really details their loss of wealth, and although that was partly due to family dysfunction, it sounds like changes in law and social standards also played a major part. I suspect that a lot of Gilded Age families are no longer among the super-rich of the 21st century.

Although I was disappointed that this book wasn't quite as-advertised, I'll still recommend it as a fascinating and starkly honest glimpse into a bygone era.

It also really drove home, for me, the idea that inherited wealth can be a curse as much as a blessing. Have you ever wished you'd inherited a billion dollars? Okay, great, so has everyone. Now, imagine how your family--your parents, your siblings, your children, your relatives--would treat you if you inherited 99% of the family fortune. Or if you only inherited 1% while your brother or sister got 99%. Or if your parents inherited it, but withheld it from you. Or if your child inherited it, but you did not. Now add a layer of family dysfunction--domineering mothers, megalomaniac fathers, unexpected deaths, raging alcoholism, etc.--on top of that.

It's ironic how the Vanderbilts and their contemporaries were trying *so* hard to live like the French aristocracy before the Revolution--imitating their lavish balls, their style of architecture, and struggling to get their children married to European aristocracy so they could inherit castles and titles--and yet they didn't seem to understand why aristocracy lasted for centuries. They were just imitating the superficial trappings of it. They didn't have armies or social codes of honor to back them up. They tried to fool themselves into thinking that their power was in their family name, but it was really just the wealth.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
shanthanu
The Kindle edition could not be finished; it kept skipping to the sources after chap. 4 or 5. I was interested, but unable to get to the end due to technical problems with the book.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
peefer
Lots of boring "dirt" about the New York social scene back in the day. Yawn!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
amir hesam
Excellent read. Fascinating history of the destructive power of wealth on people. Over- the-top consumption that is so evident (again) today.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
jackie lardeur
Very disappointed with this book. Much to wordy and I feel as though the author just wanted to fill pages. Was looking to this read, but couldn't wait till the end.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
will mitchell
The book is informative. However, it is way too long and could have been condensed. It shows the greed of the wealthy.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
herbie
I thought it would be fascinating. Not so much. While the story itself has some great nuggets of info and drama, it was, well, BORING! Could not finish it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
joe kuykendall
This book contains some interesting information, but it's presented in a frankly dull, pedantic and almost child-like style that does not serve the subject matter well. Disappointing.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
maris
This subject matter had the potential to be a page-turner, and instead I found it to be as dry and lifeless as a bad history textbook. Loved the idea, thumbs down on the execution.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
cale
struggling to read it. doesn't hold my interest.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
leann
no review
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cindy merrill
I was astounded by the opulence in which these people lived. It was almost surreal to read of the excesses of some members of this House. No so unlike the Billionaires of today's America.
But there was a lot of history in this book, the development of the railroad system, the creation of chateaux, the collecting of pieces of art so well documented, the influence of the Gilded Age on society as a whole, that for me was the beauty of this narrative.
Very interesting indeed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ruchira
Hats off to Arthur Vanderbilt II for combing through the family archive and putting this rich history down in one, cohesive place – it must have been fantastically challenging.

The book starts off with the life story of the family patriarch, Cornelius, who single-handedly built his empire. He dropped out of school at 11 and at 16, with a $100 loan from his mother, he bought his first boat. He outwitted, out worked and intimidated his competition. He was a domineering and sadistic father of 13. He disowned his daughters who married (and no longer carried the family name) and berated his sons relentlessly.

The story continues by developing the history and life of each of the most prominent family members: the rivalry to be crowned THE Mrs. Vanderbilt, the races to win the inheritance by each succeeding generation. Some family members were shrewd and had significant inheritances to pass on, while others spent money with gross frivolity, bankrupting some branches of this wild tree.

Even with ALL of these unique and very different characters, the story is told coherently. It is not difficult to follow and figure out how each person is related, as Vanderbilt lays out this story logically, generation to generation.

I found the story of Gloria Vanderbilt's childhood so fascinating, I purchased her autobiography to get her side of her story. She was fiercely manipulated as a child. Her alcoholic, gambling, reckless father was dead before she was two, leaving her with a social-climbing 20 year old mother who was manipulated by the Vanderbilts (specifically Gertrude) to gain control Gloria and her trust. It is unclear if it was truly in Gloria’s best interest, which is why I want to dive further into this subject.

This is a great book - a thorough history of a very important part of America’s Gilded Age.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
deeann
A fantastic overview focusing on key family members. This book along with a biography of the Commodore sent me on a year long obsession of reading and learning everything I could about the Gilded Age, the families and stand out characters of the time, the amazing lost and retained architecture (houses and mansions), the fashion and customs of the times etc. etc. I found many of the books I read relied on Elizabeth Bessie Drexel Lehrs personal diaries of the times as I found the same quotes and attributions across many of the books I read. Highly recommend if you're looking for fascinating biographical history which reveals much more than a retelling of the fortunes of a prominent family. In fact, it seems to be a cautionary tale for today.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
george wani
I enjoyed this book and have held a fascination with the Vanderbilt family after visiting Biltmore a few years ago. I couldn't help comparing this book to Empty Mansions, which I just finished listening to a couple of weeks ago. I felt that the author of Empty Mansions did a better job of just presenting the facts and letting you determine how you felt about the person's character whereas this author used some strong adjectives in their accounts. Not that this would detract me from reading it, it was just a noticeable difference.
I'm not a a fan of how the chapters were laid out either, with each covering a different family member. It means that the time periods being discussed overlapped. The first chapter features the Commodore until the reading of his will after his death, but then later in the book he's alive when discussing something in a chapter with a different Vanderbilt family member. It made it feel disjointed to me--at the end of the book I can't gel it into a cohesive whole. That is personal preference I suppose, but I would have liked the book to follow a time line rather than a person at a time.
All in all I liked the book and learning more about the Gilded Age in American history. Incidentally 21 of the Vanderbilt family are in a tiff with a historical society dealing with the Breakers house in Newport right now.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cassandra d strawn
I first heard of the Vanderbilt family when I was a child living in Newport, Rhode Island. My father was assigned to a naval base there for 5 years. My parents sometimes took us to the area where The Breakers and the Marble House stood. I remember seeing those, and other opulent "cottages", from the outside and being impressed by their grandeur. When I was an adult, my husband and I visited Biltmore House, which is also impressive. But I realized, other than Gloria Vanderbilt, there was no mention of other Vanderbilts in the news. After reading this book, I finally fully understand the reason why. It was remarkable that the Commodore's descendants frittered away so much of their wealth. It was interesting that the author came from the less prominent branch of the family, which nevertheless accomplished admirable goals too--in the legal field. Sometimes it's better not to be in the limelight, but to live a less crazy life in the background.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
barbara sun
Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt is sprawling novel entertainment and a must read for those who want to experience the Gilded Age if only for a few hours. I know I can never resist a chance to visit the golden age of Old New York and the aristocratic lifestyles of that shining bygone era and this work seemed to have been waiting for me.

I had the supreme pleasure of listening to the audio version of this title and the narrator was my delightful companion for many late work nights and pulled me into worlds of affluence, extravagant opulence and deep into my secret indulgences of learning about all that glitters in history. In this work you will learn about: the humble beginnings of the Vanderbilts in the early 19th century, their rise in New York society and many generations of familial squabbles, obsessions to best one another with excessive spending, elaborate marriages, deaths and performances in the public eye and theater of various court rooms. Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt also has some unexpected humor tossed in and I laughed and chuckled quite a few times throughout the nights. Depending on how you look at this narrative it can be taken as a cautionary examination of the dangers of power and riches and also an entertaining narrative that takes those willing on an elegant carriage ride into history to visit fortune makers and fortune hunters.

The only negatives I found with this title were the overabundance of storylines of the family and society members. You would be perfectly content in one family member’s chapter to be pulled directly into another, moving years ahead or dropping back in branches of the massive Vanderbilt family tree or across Fifth Avenue’s lists of social elite with no warning and it may take some time to get back to the storyline you were originally enjoying or understand any possible connection. There were also the pages of figures, stock numbers and bulk of numeral details that may appeal to some readers or listeners but slightly confuse or bore others. A few odd tangents on liaisons, diary entries and letter segments also seemed as filler and again it took some time to get back to the narrative and timeline of events. Finally the narration, although delightful and easy to listen to, there were times I had to either turn down the volume or turn it up because the narrator was very committed to recreating voices and making each member of the Vanderbilt family, New York society or other voice stand out. I won’t lie, the created voices of Alva, Gertrude and Consuelo Vanderbilt did get grating and slightly annoying, but eventually the tones and dedicated animation of the narrator seemed to settle down. Negatives aside, I greatly enjoyed Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt and found exactly what I was hoping to find. It all depends on what the reader is interested in; do you enjoy true stories that contain greed, wealth and family dynamics? Or are you looking for nonfiction that reads as an entrancing novel? If you answered yes, Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt is waiting for you.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
leona
This book has been somewhat difficult to read. I found it tedious. However, it was equally interesting. It's best if digested in small bits for retention purposes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jamie klevjer
In 2014 people compare this book and its true story, as in Non-Fiction, to many stories invented and sold as the Fictional stories they are, don't settle for the 'make-believe' this is all true This saga involves the lives of real people who lived and all the very real, and often public scandals of the lives of the uber-rich and foolish. Listed under the last edition of Fortune's Children, 21 of 22 people thought this March 13, 2000 review helpful, I hope you will as well, you will enjoy this book.

The many impressions this book left me with, are almost overshadowed by the wonder that no one turned it into a mini series. Everything the T-V/Movie audience of today craves is here: Rags to Riches, Business back stabbing that makes JR Ewing look like Mother Theresa, Mistress' divorce, gold digging women, History of steam ships and Railroads, The back drop of NY City, Political Weasel's, Amusing stories, Sex , Extravagance beyond belief, The family tragedies( Alfred V> went down with Lusitania, Heroically), decline and financial ruin, Battles over the estates by rich heirs played out in public, and even the often unhappy state of people who have more money than anyone. The story of Consuelo being sold by her mother to a bankrupt English 'lord' who never loved her just to acquire an English title, while mommy locks her up to keep her from the man she loved. AND ITS ALL TRUE ! Truth is stranger, and better than fiction. Most people will enjoy this book, for many reasons. There is much to be learned in the lessons of the Vanderbilt family, all begun with the birth of later crude and uneducated ' Commodore' on Staten Island 18 years after the birth of America. I only wish the author had added a chapter on how he felt about his ancestors, and their accomplishments/failures. Not only is the book worth the price, I've bought three copies because over the years I keep forgetting who borrowed it. And everyone I've recommended it to, has thanked me
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
adam fleming
It was a more factual account of the Vanderbilt family and history. It was not nearly as enjoyable
as the Downton Abbey series on TV.
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