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When The Astors Owned New York

971 words - 4 pages

When the Astor’s Owned New York: Blue Bloods and Grand Hotels in a Gilded Age.
By Justin Kaplan. (Penguin Group (USA), 2006. Pp. 208. Prologue, content, acknowledgements, sources, index. $13)

Justin Kaplan is an American novelist and editor whom is known for his vast selection of biographies. He even received a Pulitzer Prize For his biography concerning Mark Twain. When the Astor’s Owned New York: Blue Bloods and Grand Hotels in a Gilded Age, is only one example of Kaplan’s many biographical novels. In summary, the novel takes a glance into the Astor family’s rise and fall and their way of making regular people feel luxurious. Overall, Kaplan really focuses on the inconsequentialness of the rich and their appetite to be more superior than anyone. Hence, Their desire to compete to have larger homes, fancier furniture, more expensive yachts, and better hotels. However, the Astor’s even competed within their own family.
The family’s fortune started in a German village called Waldorf by John Jacob Astor, the first Millionaire, whom opened the Astor House and charged patrons to stay in private rooms. In time the family feud started with the two grandsons of John Jacob Astor, John Jacob Astor III and William Backhouse Astor Jr., Whom wanted to rise to the heights of wealth and fame even if it meant competing with one another. In turn, the Brothers latter passed the feud onto each of their offspring. Their sons were John Jacob Astor IV and William Waldorf Astor, cousins, whom broke the family feud and established the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in 1897. In fact, The Waldorf-Astoria hotel was actually two hotels connected together with the ability to cut access between the two if the treaty failed.
William first was defeated in politics, also began writing, produced two sons, Waldorf and John Jacob Astor IV, and lastly died a British bishop. However, John Jacob served in the military before the commencement gain of his many assets, had two children, William Vincent and John Jacob Astor IV, and eventually perished aboard the Titanic. As a result, his death was not bewailed by the family but rather used to increase their fortune. Regardless of the readers views on the Astor family, there is much evidence proving the family’s huge impact on New York’s interesting history even after their deaths.
Kaplan wrote When the Astor’s Owned New York: Blue Bloods and Grand Hotels in a Gilded Age to give readers a view of the Astor family’s history. Overall, The novel is a fascinating combination of history and biography. For the most part, Kaplan wrote the convincing novel for both the everyday reader and for scholars. Undoubtedly, he was able to enlighten the reader of nearly every important aspect and contribute to the reader’s knowledge of the Astor family. The author has a genuine understanding of the family’s history and writes...

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