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The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
by T. J. Stiles
736 pages
Knopf
Published: Apr 2009

Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) may be the least-remembered – and possibly the most influential – of the nineteenth-century industrialists. This descendant of Dutch immigrants began modestly but eventually assembled the nation’s largest fleet of ships (earning a fortune in the process). In his second act he built, bought and consolidated a massive railroad enterprise headquartered in New York.

In this masterful biography, Stiles exposes nearly every facet of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s life – from his early days scrapping for nickels to his final years spent…

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