Their Lives and Lifestyles

by William G. Scheller

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"The business of America," Calvin Coolidge once remarked, "is business." Skillfully written and richly illustrated, Barons of Business looks into the lives, fortunes, and tastes of the heroically ambitious individuals who took those words to heart.

Beginning with the colonial era, when trade was overtaking landholding as a way to get rich, Barons of Business follows the restless careers of our most brilliant and driven merchants, industrialists, and financiers as they master a new economic world of textiles, railroads, oil, and steel. With the twentieth century come fresh opportunities: automobiles, motion pictures, broadcasting, publishing and retailing on a massive scale, and the vast horizon of high technology.

Meet John Hancock, colonial Boston's "limousine liberal," and New England merchant princes such as Thomas Handasyd Perkins, who didn't want to run the U.S. Navy because he already commanded more ships. Learn how John Jacob Astor parlayed success in the fur trade into status as Manhattan's master landlord and richest man in America—only to be eclipsed by the profane, iron-willed Cornelius Vanderbilt, who leaped like a nimble Croesus from steamships to railroads and could cooly inform an adversary, "I won't sue you . . . I'll ruin you."

Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford are here, as well as the lordly J.P. Morgan, who collected fine art and old manuscripts so voraciously that he had to build the Morgan Library to contain them. F.W. Woolworth, who raised the world's tallest building on a foundation of nickels and dimes; George Eastman, the photo mogul who was happy at home baking lemon pies; Samuel Goldwyn who "wanted to be somebody"—these are only a few of the characters who crowd these pages along with the likes of railroading's E.H. Harriman, television's Bill Paley and Ted Turner, the flamboyant Malcolm Forbes and the bizarre Howard Hughes.

Barons of Business brings together more than 40 of the individuals for whom the business of America was indeed business—and who excelled at it beyond anyone's dreams. Except, perhaps, their own.

10 7/8 x 12 1/2 in., 240 pages
ISBN: 0-88363-842-8
$60.00 U.S.

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