Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt

Arthur T. Vanderbilt, Author William Morrow & Company $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-07279-7
Among the author's earlier books is Changing Laws, an award-winning biography of his grandfather, Arthur T. Vanderbilt. His latest history, witty, entertaining and sad, also merits a prize for the writer, a lawyer and one among many members of the fabled family who inherited the Vanderbilt name but not the wealth. ``The Commodore'' (1794-1877) made $105 million by hook and by crook; Alva, wife of the founding father's son William, went on spending sprees that later heirs followed. Stories about the author's ancestors have been told before, but not so vividly as in his evocations of the snobbery, ostentation and profligacy that caused ``the fall of the House of Vanderbilt.'' Today's Vanderbilts are not rich-rich; the money is gone with the clan's grand homes, felled by wrecking balls in New York and elsewhere, leaving only memories of a singular time in the American past. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC alternate. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
Paperback - 544 pages - 978-0-688-10386-6
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