In 1990, Ron Chernow burst on the literary scene with The House of Morgan, a splendid biography of J.P. Morgan and his financial empire. Here was a book that was a brilliant blend of scholarship and readability. It had no recreated scenes or made-up dialogue. Everything was fully documented, rich in detail. Yet its narrative flow and fine writing made it read like a novel. It went on to win the National Book Award for nonfiction.
Ever since, I've looked forward to everything Chernow wrote: The Warburgs in 1993 and The Death of the Banker in 1997. Now comes Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr. We are proud to publish an excerpt, introduced with an essay written for us by Chernow that draws parallels to today. You'll find it on page 64.
Titan starts by examining Rockefeller's early life, with special attention given to his father, an itinerant peddler of quack medicines who was also a bigamist. Rockefeller's shame about his father lasted a lifetime and drove him to his phenomenal success in business and philanthropy. It's all here--the Baptist fundamentalism, the formation of Standard Oil, the monopolistic excesses, Ida Tarbell's muckraking, the family dynamics, the extraordinary philanthropy in education and medicine, and ultimately the breakup of his empire in 1911. Our excerpt focuses on the famous antitrust case.
You can read the book as a sympathetic portrait of a complex man, a business history, a legal battle, or simply as a great yarn. I highly recommend it.