Listen free for 30 days

Audible Membership

$14.95 a month

1 credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
The Plus Catalogue—listen all you want to thousands of Audible Originals, podcasts, and audiobooks.
$14.95 a month plus applicable taxes after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy Now for $38.59

Buy Now for $38.59

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Tax where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

New York Times best-selling author and journalist Anderson Cooper teams with New York Times best-selling historian and novelist Katherine Howe to chronicle the rise and fall of a legendary American dynasty - his mother’s family, the Vanderbilts.

When 11-year-old Cornelius Vanderbilt began to work on his father’s small boat ferrying supplies in New York Harbor at the beginning of the 19th 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 70-room summer estate in Newport, Rhode Island, that Cornelius’ 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.

Written with a unique insider’s viewpoint, this is a rollicking, quintessentially American history as remarkable as the family it so vividly captures.

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2021 Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Vanderbilt

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    104
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    94
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    81
  • 4 Stars
    16
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Cooper Love

great audio,thank-you kindly for your time and efforts! Just Wonderful knowledge and spirit! All the best with the rest of life!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic!

Such a beautifully told story about an important part of American history. What a priceless gift to leave to your son! Well done.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A wonderful book !!

I enjoyed this book immensely ! Fascinating story ! Anderson Cooper is a wonderful writer and a great raconteur. Not a dull moment in the whole book. I greatly recommend it. I loved how he described the women of this family, and their roles. I loved to listen to him regarding his relationship with his mother, taking on the role of child ,friend, and protector as time goes by. Great book Anderson Cooper !

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic

Loved it. Anderson Cooper could read the phone book and it would sound amazing. The story is very good, the descriptions of the clothes and surroundings delicious.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible

While my business and family may not, I thank you Anderson and Katherine for writing this book. It has piqued so many curiosities and sent me down so many rabbit holes of history I may never return.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating family history

I loved this book!! It’s wonderful to hear this storied family’s life in the voice of one of the actual family members.

Anderson brings the Vanderbilt history to life with details about the gilded age and all the family’s quirks. He is honest about their flaws and you often forget that he is writing about his ancestors.

The most touching parts are when Anderson describes his mother as a child, and her tumultuous young life. The poignancy is never more striking as when he talks about her in the later years and all the tragedy she endured with grace and acceptance.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Vanderbilt, by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe

This is an enchanting book. It paints a picture of life in the guilded age without turning it into a fairytale. At times, it is a modern-day Grimms farytale.

Anderson is a born storyteller. he also juxtaposes events that occurred on a stratosphere almost unimaginable for its wealth and extravagance, with historic and often tragic events that happened concurrently, to very ordinary men and women who struggled for a meager livelihood.

The people are shown in their entirety as much as the author could glean from letters, diaries, newspapers, and other historic documents. Most are shown with more or less equal amounts of the good as well as their less than desirable characteristics.

Even his own mother, Gloria, is described in ways that make her very human. While her actions and ideas concerning the material things money can buy, make her appear very shallow, her views on love, family, art and philosophy of death, ensure the reader that she has incredible depth of character.

New York City of yester year comes alive in this book, from the time before explorers and settlers reached it's shore to today.

A fascinating book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Didn’t want it to end

A story of 5 generations of an Extraordinary family who come to life in this wonderful read. I enjoyed imagining the glamour and debauchery of the exclusively rich high society set. I could see in my mind’s eye the New Amsterdam /New York and the cast of characters who inhabited it The Gilded Age reminds one that all that glitters is not gold. Anderson Cooper is a pleasure to listen to. He provides a balanced depiction of the people and places who come to life in the pages of this wonderful book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

the wonderful history of Anderson cooper

Absolutely enjoyed hearing about Glorias life as a Vanderbilt including various other husbands. Anderson was a wonderful son and friend to his mom.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • KLM
  • 2021-11-16

Fantastic!!

This book with it's incredible narrator had me hooked from the very beginning until it's ending. Just fabulous!

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • P. J. Jough-Haan
  • 2021-09-22

A Wonderful modern history…

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to amazing family historical information that funneled directly through years of parallel U.S. and world history. It was archival family history that so richly describes the human condition. The fun part was listening to Mr. Cooper orate his love letter to his son. Every word was honey as he built beloved hives of words whose honeycombs wove in and out of American and world history. What an incredible legacy. What a lucky child. What a lucky audience of which I include myself. Thank you deeply for an excellent personal experience.

34 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • HistoryNerd
  • 2021-09-24

Interesting Approach to a Well Known History

As an architectural historian with an interest in the Gilded Age, the Vanderbilts have long been one of my fascinations. When I discovered that Anderson Cooper was co-writing a book on his family, I was immediately excited. That initial excitement probably raised my expectations a bit too high though the book definitely has its merits.

Overall, I appreciated the anecdotal approach to the subject matter once I got used to it. Since I’m well acquainted with the major personalities of the Vanderbilt family and those in their orbit, I was a bit bored. Cooper’s dry wit made this a bit more interesting fortunately. The anecdotal approach was much better as the authors discussed the third and fourth generations of the Vanderbilts including Alfred Vanderbilt (who went down with the Lusitania) and Harold Vanderbilt, the winner of the America’s Cup Race in 1934. Most interesting was the relaying of Gloria Vanderbilt’s story, which was done in two parts. I appreciated Cooper’s intimate perspective on his mother, her tragic childhood, and glamorous adult life. In some ways, he may have been better served by writing all of the book about his mother. There would be no one better to do that task.

I also appreciated the contextual information that was included though it sometimes went on far too long. For example, the whole chapter devoted to Truman Capote simply because Gloria Vanderbilt was one of his Swans.

The weakest part of the whole book is the last section which is an audible walking tour of places in the Manhattan associated with the Vanderbilts. I caught more than one mistake. For instance, Alva Vanderbilt Belmont’s second mansion was built in 1909 and designed by her preferred architect Richard Morris Hunt. He died in 1895; the mansion was designed by his sons under the name of Hunt & Hunt. There was another architectural error in this section as well.

Cooper’s narration was a bit bland sometimes. Yes, he is a TV news anchor but comes off a bit dull at times when stripped of the visual component. I eventually got used to it and did enjoy his dry wit which comes through at times.

We never are treated to the reason the Vanderbilts have fallen beyond the fact that they had little work ethic and a love of spending money. Those are perfectly good reasons but they are not discussed in an in depth manner.

Overall, this is a good book. But I wouldn’t rely on it if you’re a historian (either professionally or in an amateur capacity) of the period. For that I would rely on Arthur Vanderbilt’s book “Fortune’s Children” though some may disagree with me!

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • TX gal
  • 2021-09-23

The Vanderbilts could sure blow through money!!!

Beautifully written and narrated (by Anderson Cooper). So...Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt was the Jeff Bezos of his day (richest man on earth, or at least the United States), but his descendants managed to spend ALL OF IT...and--in most cases--on extravagant homes that could not be maintained and were sold for pennies on the dollar. INSANE! My only daughter has a trust fund that provides her with generous annual distributions. After finishing this book, I called my financial advisor and added additional restrictions! Honestly, Anderson's frivolous family gave rise to his ambition and work ethic--he wanted to be, and is, self sufficient. Good job! And that baby Wyatt...what a doll.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Laurie
  • 2021-09-26

Interesting

I’ve read other books about the Vanderbilts including the much more comprehensive Fortune’s Children. This doesn’t pretend to be a whole history, but the stories Cooper selected and the way he chooses to describe them says a lot about his perspective on his mother’s origins.

I eagerly awaited the segments about Gloria towards the end. I think anyone curious about the family will want to know how Cooper speaks about his mother’s childhood now that she’s passed. There were no big surprises, but one for me in relation to her adult estrangement from Dodo. Good to know.

Another thing that was new to me was a whole chapter dedicated to Capote’s caricaturization of Gloria in a short story. One, even though I’ve read two Capote novels I didn’t know that happened. Two, it’s fascinating that it’s such a big deal to Cooper.

I’m not giving 5 stars for the narration. Cooper makes a few mistakes along the way though he quickly recovers. Also, a cadence that is effective for a news story doesn’t quite work for a family history and he didn’t do anything to alter his customary style.

Cooper’s devoted love for his mother and hers for him shines through and it’s maybe the best thing about the book.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Knowledge Seeker
  • 2021-09-25

Work Worthy of its Namesake Family and its Time

Absolutely loved this book! As a child assigned to produce a required school project, I became aware of Gloria Vanderbilt, her storied life and fascinating family. So, like others, I grew up wondering what it must have been like to grow up as a member of a family that hardscrabble effort, grit, and determination made their life's work into immense and unimaginable wealth only to lose it all through successive generations. I especially appreciate that Anderson Cooper is willing to record his family history for his son, Wyatt, and for all of us. Thanks to Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe, who made this book a rare treat. Anderson's narration is lovely and a highlight adding to one's enjoyment and understanding. Highly recommend this listen. Once started, I couldn't wait to get back to it.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-09-29

Not A Great Narration

The story of this family is fascinating history. Was surprised that as captivating as a news anchor Anderson Cooper is, the story telling was so bland and monotone, he kept losing my attention.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • DebHumm
  • 2021-09-23

What I took away from this splendid family tale

Anderson Cooper does a most amazing job on the Vanderbilts. As you might expect, there’s social commentary along with the simple telling of the family saga. The most compelling was how POSTbellum America under the “guidance” of Mrs. Caroline Astor and her minion “walker” (safe escort for married gentry whose husbands couldn’t be bothered) Ward McAllister, shaped a society where there wasn’t the landed aristocracy of the Old World. “With each wave of new people, she felt the imperative to codify and define who should qualify as polite society.” The key to her success was “the invention of celebrity, a concept made possible by the new technologies for the cheap dissemination of images. “
I’d always heard of Mrs. Astor and The Four Hundred, but his explanation of how it evolved was eye opening!
Alva Vanderbilt would later eclipse Mrs. Astor and marry her daughter off into that same British nobility.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • S
  • 2021-10-12

Dull

Listening to this book was like listening to a mundane history book for me. I wanted to like it more because Anderson seems like a nice guy but that wasn’t enough to make this interesting.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dorothy Rusignuolo
  • 2021-09-29

Sadly captivating.

Listened to the complete book in one afternoon. Of course the narration by Anderson Cooper was excellent and fascinating telling the story of the Vanderbilt family....his Mother's family....his family.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Derek L.
  • 2021-10-12

A liberal view of the Vanderbilts

Anderson Cooper’s review reads like someone who is somewhat ashamed of his family‘s history. It seems fairly well researched and accurate however the authors opinions are colored by his own personal political views.

2 people found this helpful