Choose Your Own Adventure Book Club

Adult Book Club Discussion

Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty

Please join us for one of our meetings of our Adult Book Club scheduled for Friday, August 9, at 1:30 p.m. and Tuesday, August 13, at 1:00 p.m.  We will be discussing the book "Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe.

When eleven-year-old Cornelius Vanderbilt began to work on his father’s small boat ferrying supplies in New York Harbor at the beginning of the nineteenth century, no one could have imagined that one day he would, through ruthlessness, cunning, and a pathological desire for money, build two empires—one in shipping and another in railroads—that would make him the richest man in America. His staggering fortune was fought over by his heirs after his death in 1877, sowing familial discord that would never fully heal. Though his son Billy doubled the money left by “the Commodore,” subsequent generations competed to find new and ever more extraordinary ways of spending it. By 2018, when the last Vanderbilt was forced out of The Breakers—the seventy-room summer estate in Newport, Rhode Island, that Cornelius’s grandson and namesake had built—the family would have been unrecognizable to the tycoon who started it all.

Now, the Commodore’s great-great-great-grandson Anderson Cooper, joins with historian Katherine Howe to explore the story of his legendary family and their outsized influence. Cooper and Howe breathe life into the ancestors who built the family’s empire, basked in the Commodore’s wealth, hosted lavish galas, and became synonymous with unfettered American capitalism and high society. Moving from the hardscrabble wharves of old Manhattan to the lavish drawing rooms of Gilded Age Fifth Avenue, from the ornate summer palaces of Newport to the courts of Europe, and all the way to modern-day New York, Cooper and Howe wryly recount the triumphs and tragedies of an American dynasty unlike any other.

Copies of the book are available for checkout at the library.

What:  Adult Book Club

When/Where:  Friday, August 9, at 1:30 p.m. - East Troy Lions Public Library

When/Where: Tuesday, August 13, at 1:00 p.m. - East Troy Lions Public Library

East Troy Lions Public Library Adult Book Club Reading List 2024


January: The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

February:  Deep by James Nestor
March: Old Filth by Jane Gardam

April:  Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

May:   Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

June:  Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

July:  Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

August: Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty by Anderson Cooper & K. Howe

September:  The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner

October:  The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

November:  Lady Tan's Circle of Women by Lisa See

December:  The Boys by Kate Hefner