Open in the App Open in the App Open in the App
Get the key ideas from

On His Own Terms

A Life of Nelson Rockefeller

By Richard Norton Smith
25-minute read
Audio available
On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith

On His Own Terms (2014) tells the remarkable life story of Nelson Rockefeller, who used his family’s notoriety and wealth to change the world for the better. These blinks walk you through Nelson’s life, from his involvement in the family oil business to his extended career in politics.

  • Students of history and politics
  • Readers who love a good biography

Richard Norton Smith is a critically acclaimed biographer and frequent contributor to both PBS and ABC News. He has served as director for a number of presidential libraries, including those dedicated to Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower.

Go Premium and get the best of Blinkist

Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Read or listen to key insights from the world’s best nonfiction.

Upgrade to Premium

What is Blinkist?

The Blinkist app gives you the key ideas from a bestselling nonfiction book in just 15 minutes. Available in bitesize text and audio, the app makes it easier than ever to find time to read.

Discover
3,000+ top
nonfiction titles

Get unlimited access to the most important ideas in business, investing, marketing, psychology, politics, and more. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from

On His Own Terms

A Life of Nelson Rockefeller

By Richard Norton Smith
  • Read in 25 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 16 key ideas
On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith
Synopsis

On His Own Terms (2014) tells the remarkable life story of Nelson Rockefeller, who used his family’s notoriety and wealth to change the world for the better. These blinks walk you through Nelson’s life, from his involvement in the family oil business to his extended career in politics.

Key idea 1 of 16

Nelson Rockefeller was born into an extraordinarily wealthy family, but experienced his share of struggles as well.

You’ve likely heard of John D. Rockefeller Sr., the famous American oil tycoon and often considered the wealthiest person in modern history. But have you heard the name Nelson Rockefeller?

Born on July 8th, 1909, the third child of Abby and John D. Rockefeller Jr., Nelson was the grandson of John Sr. who, along with his brother, William Avery Rockefeller Jr., founded Standard Oil, one of the largest oil companies in the world.

William Avery Rockefeller Sr., Nelson’s great-grandfather, was a scoundrel and a con man. He earned a living by traveling the country peddling fake pharmaceuticals, a practice that earned him the nickname “Devil Bill.”

But Nelson’s father, John D. Rockefeller Jr., took a different tack, spending much of his life, and the family’s money, on philanthropic projects. He passed this passion onto his children, and Nelson, in particular, would inherit his father’s devotion to improving the world. But Nelson had another thing going for him: the creative business instincts of generations of Rockefellers before him.

While he came from a very privileged background, Nelson’s life was not always one of ease and comfort. He struggled with a learning disability that would affect him until his death.

While growing up, it became clear that Nelson suffered from dyslexia, which made his schoolwork extremely difficult. Fortunately, he had a team of fantastic tutors and was enrolled in the Lincoln School, a progressive educational institution that let students build their own courses and learn by doing. For instance, if a child was obsessed with boating, they could use their passion to learn about geography, history, music and literature.

It was as a result of this supportive environment that Nelson managed to make his way through school, excelling in math, science and biology. He also proved to have boundless energy and an attention-seeking personality.

While his disability left him with grades that were just average, his marks were still good enough to get him into Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. There he earned the lifelong nickname “Rocky” and developed his passions for photography, art and architecture.

Key ideas in this title

No time to
read?

Pssst. Sign up to your secret to success: key ideas from top nonfiction in just 15 minutes.
Created with Sketch.