Overview (Spoilers Abound):
In the past year, after reading Grant, Washington, and Hamilton, I’ve grown to thoroughly admire Chernow’s eloquent style of delivering large quantities of technical detail in an engaging manner. Needless to say, I was eager to add another of his titles to my reading list despite knowing little to nothing about the subject matter. Sure I knew Rockefeller was a mastermind behind the oil monopoly at the turn of the 20th century and of course I’d heard of the Rockefeller Center, however I knew little details of this time period other than what I’d read from Garfield’s biography by Millard and the Devil in the White City. Often when reading nonfiction, I grasp to identifying other books I’d read within that same targeted time period, attempting to connect dots and glean additional insight that the current material might be glossing over or ignoring. That being said, I found Rockefeller to be a fascinating, complex man who truly embodied the personality of Jekyll and Hyde regarding the contrast between his sometime ruthless business dealings to his strong moral drive encompassing drink, language, fellowship, and charity. While I enjoyed learning much about this influential time in our nation’s history, I felt as though I tell that this was an earlier work of Chernow’s, although I debated as to whether I was being bias because Scott Brick was not narrating this book, which proved to be a sharp contrast to the other three Chernow book’s I’d read. Although, I strongly suspect the difference I was perceiving was a natural progression in an author’s growth and Chernow’s prose had noticeably developed and evolved in his latter three books. Regardless, while not as captivating as his other books, John D. Rockefeller was still a fascinating look into an enigmatic figure that revolutionized the business world in a relatively short time, while also expressed and acted upon a strong responsibility to do good with his fortune in which he founding the University of Chicago, supported medical research, churches, and education among many, many other foundations. Additionally, he showed inspiring and nearly endless forgiveness to family members that were quick to slight and abuse him. Overall, Chernow again hits the mark and delivers a delighfully detailed and intreging account of an individual who worked to shape the America we are familiar with today.