Monday, December 13, 2010
Guest blogger Evan Brandt expounds about the epic life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
When I saw on GoodReads.com, the online book club of sorts, that Mercury Reporter Evan Brandt had posted his thoughts about "The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt" by T.J. Stiles (Knopf. 719 pp. $37.50), two words came to mind: GUEST BLOG!
So here are Evan's thoughts on the book (by the way, that's Evan making sure The Mercury building doesn't fall over at left):
I have to say Vanderbilt's life, because of its longevity, and his position at the center of the changes the nation was going through at the time, is an excellent window into three distinct eras.
The fact that we have seen Wall Street throw the nation into several financial convulsions in the past, particularly when it was trying some new innovation, gives some comfort about the current circumstances.
As for the book itself, it was well-written, not a lot of preaching, and displays a true mastery of business and financial history, a much neglected sub-speciality.
The fact appears that Vanderbilt was successful in later years as much because of his careful consideration and slow-growth, focus on the infrastructure and stability of his railroads as because of the boldness of his early years as a steamboat warrior, is endlessly fascinating; a lesson ignored by most of his contemporaries and many of ours.
I am poised next to read about J.P. Morgan, whose era picks up roughly where Vanderbilt's ends, but am taking a quick break to read a short novel.
My reading about this aspect of history illustrates that the more things change on Wall Street, the more they stay the same and perhaps the era of regulation and moderation was the anomaly, and it's natural state is one of creating extreme wealth and extreme poverty with no room in the middle.
Sad but sobering. And the sheeple continue to vote for those Wall Street anoints less because they don't see that it is not to their advantage, but because they believe the lie that someday, it MIGHT be, when THEY'RE rich.