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

Titan

The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

By Ron Chernow
22-minute read
Audio available
Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow

Titan (1998) is a comprehensive biography of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., the original oil tycoon and founder of Standard Oil, the industry’s biggest name through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The book tells Rockefeller’s story from his humble childhood through to his becoming the richest man in American history and his quirky retirement. It provides an insight into Rockefeller’s personal life, business practices and philanthropic efforts.

  • Lovers of biographies and inspiring life stories
  • Advocates and skeptics of capitalism
  • Entrepreneurs looking for inspiration

Ron Chernow is an award-winning author of several best-selling books, including The House of Morgan, The Warburgs, Washington: A Life and Alexander Hamilton. He has been awarded the National Book Award, the George S. Eccles Prize and the Pulitzer Prize, in addition to seven honorary doctoral degrees.

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
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from

Titan

The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

By Ron Chernow
  • Read in 22 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 14 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow
Synopsis

Titan (1998) is a comprehensive biography of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., the original oil tycoon and founder of Standard Oil, the industry’s biggest name through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The book tells Rockefeller’s story from his humble childhood through to his becoming the richest man in American history and his quirky retirement. It provides an insight into Rockefeller’s personal life, business practices and philanthropic efforts.

Key idea 1 of 14

Young John D. Rockefeller’s family relocated often thanks to his absentee father.

Around the year 1723, a German miller called Johann Peter Rockefeller, together with his wife and children, collected their belongings and headed for the United States. After initially arriving in Philadelphia, they settled on a farm in Amwell, New Jersey, acquiring a few properties over time. It was a modest start for a family that would, just over a century later, count one of the richest men in American history, John D. Rockefeller, among their number.

The man later known as “the oil titan” was born John Davison Rockefeller in 1839 in Richford, New York. He was the second child and first son of William “Bill” Avery Rockefeller and Eliza Davison Rockefeller.

Those first few years were spent in Richford. It was a small town with a schoolhouse church, but its sawmills, gristmills and whiskey distillery signaled its position as a growing industrial center.

In the early 1840s, Rockefeller's father decided to relocate his family to the more dignified town of Moravia, some 30 miles north of Richford. The rest of the hard-drinking, hillbilly Rockefeller clan was left behind. Bucolic Moravia marked a halcyon period for young John, as he watched his father’s logging business boom.

The family was religious. Rockefeller was brought up a Baptist, and the Church was an institution that would impact Rockefeller’s life significantly. Not only was Rockefeller to become the Protestant work ethic incarnate, Baptist religious dogma also taught him the value of continuous self-improvement and honor.

However, in the spring of 1850, the family moved once more – this time to Owego on the Pennsylvania border – after Bill was accused of raping the young househelp. Bill himself was generally a shadowy figure during Rockefeller’s childhood. He was a distant traveling salesman who was often absent for months at a time.

In his absence, Eliza gave Rockefeller tasks around the house, and he matured rapidly. In fact, he was more of a father than a brother to his siblings.

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

No time to
read?

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