In his new biography of the man most responsible for the modern corporation, T.J. Stiles concocts a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, writes reviewer Dwight Garner. Stiles chooses to focus on the Vanderbilt's profound impact on modern business, notes Garner, although he doesn't shy away from the coarseness and rapacity that made the man as notorious as he was influential.

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