The House the Rockefellers Built

A Tale of Money, Taste, and Power in Twentieth-Century America

Robert F. Dalzell and Lee Baldwin

Holt Paperbacks

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“The Dalzells . . . do an astonishing job of placing Kykuit in historical context while weaving the larger-than-life Rockefeller personalities into its very walls and hallways.”—Los Angeles Times

 

One hundred years ago America’s richest man established a dynastic seat, the granite-clad Kykuit, high above the Hudson River. John D. Rockefeller, who detested ostentation, had something simple in mind—at least until his son John Jr. and his charming wife, Abby, injected classical taste and a spirit of noblesse oblige into the equation. Built to honor the senior Rockefeller, the house would also become the place above all others that anchored the family’s memories and sense of itself.

 

With memorable skill and insight, the authors take us inside the house and the family to observe how each new generation, often sharply at odds with one another, left its distinctive mark on the place.

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Book Excerpts

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Introduction
 
Sic Transit . . . December 1991
 
It had always felt like the most private of places. Now after more than eighty years that was about to change, and though arguably the entire family was losing a part of its heritage, it was the youngest among them, the children of “the cousins,” who seemed to feel most deeply the need to mark the break. So it was that on a December night in 1991 the fifth generation of the Rockefeller family—counting from John D. Rockefeller Sr. and his wife, Laura Celestia (“Cettie”) Spelman Rockefeller, for whom the house had been built—gathered

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Praise for The House the Rockefellers Built

“This is a book about a great house, to be sure, but more about the conversations taking place inside it, which the Dalzell’s have recovered with perfect pitch – conversations about what to do with the greatest fortune in American history.”—Joseph J. Ellis, author of the upcoming American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic
 
“The creation of a house is not unlike the raising of a child. Lee and Robert Dalzell have brilliantly brought to life the complexities, constraints, and compromises that underlie the drama surrounding the building of Kykuit and have continued the story through the years that followed with equal finesse.”—Pauline C Metcalf, author of Ogden Codman and the Decoration of Houses

“[The authors] have shed welcome light on the endlessly fascinating subject of Americans and wealth, or, more precisely, the uneasiness of Americans with wealth, even those who possess it . . . [W]atching the fight over building [the Rockefellers’] dream house, so well told by the Dalzells, you see the anxieties that dogged their every step.”—Newsweek

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About the Author

Robert F. Dalzell and Lee Baldwin

Robert F. Dalzell is Ephraim Williams Professor of American History at Williams College, and is the author of Enterprising Elite: The Boston Associates and the World They Made and Daniel Webster and the Trial of American Nationalism.

Lee Baldwin Dalzell was for many years the head of the Reference Department at the Williams College Library. The two collaborated on George Washington’s Mount Vernon: At Home in Revolutionary America.

Robert F. Dalzell
Lee Baldwin Dalzell

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Available Formats and Book Details

The House the Rockefellers Built
A Tale of Money, Taste, and Power in Twentieth-Century America
Robert F. Dalzell and Lee Baldwin

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Henry Holt and Co.
Holt Paperbacks
August 2008
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780805088571
ISBN10: 0805088571
5 11/16 x 8 7/8 inches, 352 pages, Includes sixteen pages of pictures
$20.99

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
August 2013
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466851665
ISBN10: 146685166X
352 pages, Includes sixteen pages of pictures
$7.99
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