Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyIn another solid exercise in restorative history, Stasz, professor of history at Sonoma State University in California, tries to do for the Rockefeller women what she did in The Vanderbilt Women. Tracing the billionaires from John D. and Laura Rockefeller (married in 1864) to Governor Nelson and Happy Rockefeller (married in 1963), she chronicles the women's philanthropic activities (John Jr.'s wife, Abby, was a founder of the Museum of Modern Art) and eccentricities (John D.'s daughter, Edith, became a Jungian lay analyst and financially supported James Joyce, advising him in vain to go into therapy with Carl Jung). It is all conscientiously recorded, and Stasz draws a convincing picture of a more genuine religious commitment than the rich are usually given credit for. But it is impossible to escape the fact that men and money inexorably shaped the Rockefeller women's lives, despite the author's diligent efforts to give them historical independence. A comprehensive and careful portrait such as this brings valuable information together, but the tale of making money has more narrative drive than that of spending it. Let's face it: robber barons are, on the whole, more fun to read about than wealthy society women. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Library JournalOf all the hugely wealthy families that grew out of laissez-faire capitalism, the Rockefellers most embodied that odd combination of focused accumulation and abundant charity. Over the generations, certain names-e.g., John Sr., John Jr., Nelson, and David-have sprung forth as fixtures of this country's economic and social history. The women are less well known (though Abby, sister of Nelson and their four brothers, and Happy, Nelson's second wife, come to mind), but as this work points out, they played prominent roles in shaping the family character and direction. Profiled here are women from John Sr.'s mother, Eliza, who endured almost everything, including a bigamist husband, to Laura, John Sr.'s wife, who shared his fascination for balancing the books, to a group of daughters and sisters and cousins that continues to grow. In this work, Stasz (The Vanderbilt Women, LJ 12/91) ably fills a gap in the telling of the Rockefeller saga. Appropriate for most public and academic libraries.-Katherine Gillen, Luke AFB Lib., Ariz.
BooknewsDrawing on previously unplundered letters, diaries, and photographs from the Rockefeller Archive, Stasz (history, Sonoma State U.) recounts the story of four generations of women in this extraordinary family. B&w photographs. CIP lists the subtitle as "an intimate portrait of an American dynasty." Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Alice JoyceBy plumbing the depths of the family's archives, Stasz was able to draw on countless letters and diaries for her expansive, scholarly account highlighting four generations of Rockefeller women. At the heart of this highly readable text are the societal and religious forces that shaped the character of these women and contributed to their influential presence both within the family and in the public arena. For readers who found Stasz's previous book, "The Vanderbilt Women", of interest, there are all sorts of sobering insights into another great American dynasty to be gleaned here. A highly readable study offering an analytical perspective, rich in historical detail.
- St. Martin's Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1st ed
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