Bestselling author and journalist Anderson Cooper teams with bestselling historian and novelist Katherine Howe to chronicle the rise and fall of a legendary American dynasty—his mother's family, the Vanderbilts.
... splendid ... The book closes by taking the reader on a ghost tour of vanished Vanderbilt properties in Manhattan. It is so haunting and beautifully written that I found myself reading it over and over ... This is a terrific book, rich (yes, pun intended) in social history, ingeniously organized and overall well-written ... At times, the prose can get a bit overheated...But this is a quibble, weighed against the book’s abundant virtues, which, despite the occasional whoosh-chop! of the guillotine blade, reveal a warm heart and a flavor of well-earned catharsis.
With resplendent detail, the authors capture the gasp-eliciting extravagance of the Vanderbilt Gilded Age mansions and lifestyles, which rarely made them happy ... With its intrinsic empathy and in-depth profiles of women, this is a distinctly intimate, insightful, and engrossing chronicle of an archetypal, self-consuming American dynasty ... Cooper’s magnetism, Howe’s fan base, and an irresistible subject add up to a nonfiction blockbuster.
[An] engaging and, indeed, suspenseful study of Cooper’s gilded relations ... Cooper and Howe string together these diverting portraits on a luminous thread, 'the loaded promises of the American dream' ... The book, however, will undoubtedly be read not as a cautionary tale but, like The Great Gatsby, as a how-to manual, as our discontented citizenry hysterically chases a golden calf that continually eludes it.