The man behind the legend

“Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr. by Ron Chernow”

There are so many things that we can learn from biographies, and this one is a prime example for that. This is an 834 pages book filled with everything imaginable about John D. Rockefeller. What his legendary demeanour was like, his decision makings in business, the way he carries himself throughout crisis, about his parenting style, his relationship with the people around him, his extended family and their dynamism and later their philanthropic activities, his difficult upbringing with a volatile father, and so much more.

He is notoriously calm and composed, a stoic and cautious character. He rarely speaks when it is not necessary, and thus he gives the controlled aura of a mysterious person. He is hugely reliable and resilient, famously frugal, daring in design but cautious in execution, strangely humble and compassionate for a man in his position, and above all he’s pious and devoutly religious. There are so much to learn from Rockefeller the person behind the legend.

The book also portrays vividly how raw the business world back then, which attracts a predatory style that became consolidated by the brutality of Rockefeller and his Standard Oil, which turned the wild west of oil capitalism into a monopoly. With this in mind, the book is also a lesson on free market capitalism, and how if left uninterrupted it can easily turns into a predatory capitalism that reach its pinnacle in a form of monopoly or near monopoly, like what happened with Rockefeller’s Standard Oil.

Indeed, this is not an all-rosy biography, as the great man himself can turn into the notorious robber baron that he became known for. This is why this book is such a thorough biography, it doesn’t show black or white, but it covers all the spectrum of colour that makes a Titan.