Value and Limitation 3
Works Cited 5
Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow
The book, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, is written by Ron Chernow. Chernow is a historian, biographer, journalist and American history writer. Titan was published by Random House, Inc., New York, in 1998. This is a scholarly text, as it is in depth and informative. Chernow has also written other famous works which have all won an award or have been nominated. He won the National Book Award for Nonfiction for his book, The House of Morgan In 1990. He also won George S. Eccles Prize for Excellence in Economic Writing for The Warburgs in 1993. He won the George Washington Book Prize for Alexander Hamilton in 2004, and the American History Book Prize for Washington in 2011. He was nominated in 1998 for National Book Critics Circle Award for Titan, and also nominated for National Book Critics Circle Award for Alexander Hamilton in 2004. He is qualified and respected in his field of writing.
The main points of Titan, focus on the start of his business career hired by the founder of the Cleveland Iron mining company, there he worked as a bookkeeper in 1855. His family life was also an important aspect of his life. The first few chapters focus on John’s background and family’s characteristics. Another important aspect of the book is John’s rise in his career, including his partnership with Maurice B. Clark. Together they invested 4,000 dollars. John soon got into the oil business in 1862. After firing several new partners the firm purchased an oil refinery and in 1870 the Standard oil Company was formed. He continued to buy refineries and negotiate until he was the largest oil refiner. The company continued to grow until Rockefeller’s retirement in 1897. These clear points the author focuses on allows the reader to get the overall main idea and aspects of John’s life. Chernow’s words describe Rockefeller as a cunning, wise business man with certain qualities that led him to the top. The information given is factual and accurate but the author’s personal opinion slightly sways the way the story is told. His opinion is mutually positive as he says, “ What makes him so problematic- and why he continues to inspire such ambivalent reactions- is that his good side was every bit as good as his bad side was bad.. “ The author describes Rockefeller as “the rapacious creator of standard oil”. This book could be considered a novel because of the author’s ability to tell a story with factual aspects thrown in. It is “A biography that has many of the best attributes of a novel…. Wonderfully fluent and compelling.” (New York Times 1).
VALUE AND LIMITATION
A valued book is one that successfully completes its initial intention. Titan, being a biography, has a goal to tell the story of Rockefeller’s life. The facts should be accurate and well researched in order to have an effective, valued book. For example, the author goes into great detail on Rockefeller’s rise to become the world’s richest man. He explains the different tactics used to negotiate with the railroads and refinery companies to enlarge his company. Chernow uses many different sources from books like The Standard Oil Company by Thomas G. Manning, to Random Reminiscences Of Men and Events, an article by John Rockefeller himself. Several readers had issues with Chernow’s writing. “It does not explain why Standard Oil was a bigger and bigger success over the decades when Rockefeller was in charge… I had no idea why Standard Oil was so sensationally successful, and this was what I really wanted to know. They had lower prices and higher profits. Why? You won't find the answer in this book.” (Sean Furl 1) There was a lack of explanation towards this particular topic, which keeps the reader speculating. The authors work is