Archive for January, 2010

I am sure that for some, this book, “The First Tycoon”, would be a fascinating read.  For anyone who has an interest in business, or economics, or the history of these subjects, this is a highly recommended book.  However, since business and corporations are not really my thing, this was a book that I found a bit difficult to wade through.  This is by no means a commentary on the author of this book, or his abilities.  It is just an observation and a warning, for those who might think that this book is more about Cornelius Vanderbilt, the man.  That is the mistake that I made when I decided to read “The First Tycoon”.  Stiles does a fabulous job of detailing the beginnings of corporate America and the machinations that took place among America’s early businessmen.  The focus, though, is very much on Vanderbilt, the businessman.  While the Vanderbilt family is, inevitably, a part of the story, they are but a small part, and really only discussed in how they were affected by the patriarch of the family and his overpowering personality.  Very nearly each person mentioned is discussed in relation to Vanderbilt as businessman.  I did find interesting the evolution of corporations and how Americans slowly accepted the changes in the nation’s economy.  This, however, was the main focus of the book, and there is just a bit too much detailed information about Vanderbilt’s businesses for my taste.  This is not a condemnation of the book, which is very well-written, but of my ability to perceive the subject matter before I began reading.  The fault of the fact that I did not thoroughly enjoy this book lies entirely with me.

That being said, I personlly have to give this book 3 out of 5 bookmarks.

Reviewed by:     Anna


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This book, “No Ordinary Time”, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, is a pretty comprehensive account of life in the White House just before and during WWII.  Although it is a lengthy book, with a wide cast of characters, Goodwin, in my opinion, never fails to make the story entertaining, and the characters come alive.  Her research is exhaustive, but because of that, the personalities and the stories are arrayed in such detail, that is almost as if the reader is a fly on the wall.   Both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, are treated objectively, with good points and bad pointed out.  Their triumphs and joys, as well as their sorrows and shortcomings are portrayed so well that the reader feels they can actually know these people.  They are very real and human.  Goodwin never fails to disappoint for me as a reader.  She is a scholar, to be sure, but writes for the lay-reader who enjoys history.  I am definitely not a scholar, and I feel as though I come away from reading her books with as comprehensive a feel for the subject matter as is possible to get in one book.  I find her books approachable, easy to read, and extremely informative.  She makes history fun!   I highly recommend “No Ordinary Time” if you are a fan of history, the Roosevelts, or Doris Kearns Goodwin.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookmarks.

Reviewed by:    Anna

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