A biography of America's first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., drawing from Rockefeller's personal papers to provide information about his rustic origins, his creation of Standard Oil, his often controversial business tactics, and his personal relationships and attributes.
Rockefeller has a single-minded drive to make money, which lasts until the 1920s when he starts to loosen up and become more human suggesting an inner character development. In the 1870s, his upright religious persona bolstered his credibility with bankers allowing him to raise cash to consolidate the industry rapidly; at the same time he was gaming the system to his advantage. Put kindly, the mark of a great man is the ability to hold contradicting ideas at the same time. Not so kindly, he was more greedy and hypocritical then the rest.
I knew little about Rockefeller, and am glad to have learned so much. In balance, most of the money was put to good use - parks, health care, arts - that is the best we can hope for. Near the end, Chernow describes a scene with Rockefeller seeing no interest in yachts but weeping over the beauty of a rainstorm. Chernow didn't intend it but it's poignant - climate change will be his legacy for thousands or even millions of years.