“In “The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt,” historian T.J. Stiles presents a comprehensive biography of the legendary railroad mogul. The book is more than 700 pages long, but worth the time (and weight); The New York Times calls it “state-of-the-art biography, crisper and more piquant than a 600-page book has any right to be.” Nominated for a National Book Award, it is touted by some reviewers as the definite biography of the man behind Grand Central Station. The Washington Post says, “Stiles, a superb researcher, has unearthed quantities of new material and crafted them into the illuminating, authoritative portrait of Vanderbilt that has been missing for so long; Stiles has also debunked several myths about Vanderbilt.”
Richard M. Abrams, in a Special to The San Francisco Chronicle, reviews this “very long, very detailed and very absorbing biography”:
It is in fact much more than a biography. The book is filled with important, exhaustively researched and indeed fascinating details that would profit every student of American business and social history to read.