Tycoon's War: How Cornelius Vanderbilt Invaded a Country to Overthrow America's Most Famous Military Adventurer

Tycoon's War: How Cornelius Vanderbilt Invaded a Country to Overthrow America's Most Famous Military Adventurer

by Stephen Dando-Collins
     
 

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Written by a master storyteller, Tycoon’s War is the remarkable account of an epic imperialist duel—a violent battle of the capitalist versus the idealist, money versus ambition, and a monumental clash of egos that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Americans. This incredible true story—impeccably researched and never before told inSee more details below

Overview

Written by a master storyteller, Tycoon’s War is the remarkable account of an epic imperialist duel—a violent battle of the capitalist versus the idealist, money versus ambition, and a monumental clash of egos that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Americans. This incredible true story—impeccably researched and never before told in full—is packed with greed, intrigue, and some of the most hair-raising battle scenes ever written.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Dando-Collins (Caesar's Legion ) recounts the conflict between tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt and adventurer William Walker over the control of Nicaragua from 1855 to 1857. Walker, with mercenary support, entered Nicaragua's civil war in 1855 on the side of the Democratico forces against the Legitimistas. Historians have seen the Tennessee native as wishing to reintroduce slavery to Nicaragua and encourage settlement by American Southerners. Dando-Collins claims that Walker initially acted out of personal ambition, seeking to emulate Sam Houston of Texas. Only after he was elected president of Nicaragua in 1856 did he turn to slaving-holding interests to support colonization and to bring in African labor. Dando-Collins's basis for his defense of Walker? That he came from a family hostile to slavery and there is no record that he supported the practice of slavery himself. Even if the paper trail is not there, Walker's willingness to reintroduce and thus expand slavery demonstrates tolerance for the institution and/or unscrupulous desire for power. His actions put him into conflict with Vanderbilt, who controlled a major portion of shipping routes that used Nicaragua as overland transit between the Atlantic and Pacific. After the Democratico government seized his company's assets, Vanderbilt, with the tacit encouragement of the U.S. government, supplied Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador with money for arms to depose Walker in 1857. While Dando-Collins presents the story readably, his questionable historical interpretation limits his book's value. Only for academic collections seeking comprehensive coverage.-Stephen Hupp. West Virginia Univ. Lib., Parkersburg

Kirkus Reviews
Absorbing tale of a conflict in 19th-century Central America sparked by two men with rather different ideas about Manifest Destiny. Australian historian Dando-Collins (Blood of the Caesars: How the Murder of Germanicus Led to the Fall of Rome, 2008, etc.) has written what in some measure qualifies as a dual biography of William Walker and Cornelius Vanderbilt, focusing on the circumstances that made them enemies and ended in Walker's violent death at age 36. When the book opens in 1849, Vanderbilt, who rose from poverty to become perhaps the wealthiest person in the United States, was 55 years old. He was determined to control shipping routes between America's East and West coasts, which would include winning transit rights across such Central American nations as Nicaragua and Panama. An 1849 meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John M. Clayton seemed to assure Vanderbilt the exclusive right to negotiate with the Nicaraguan government to build a canal there. None of the negotiators, however, foresaw the entrance of William Walker to rewrite their cozy scenario. Reared in Nashville, Tenn., Walker learned Greek and Latin by age 12, attended universities in the United States and Europe, earned degrees in medicine and law, then worked in New Orleans as a crusading journalist. Through a series of unlikely circumstances, the fearless Walker became an adventurer determined to spread North American influence throughout Central America. He arrived in Nicaragua in 1855 at the head of a group of mercenaries he had hired and trained; in 1856, he became the civil war-torn nation's president. When he began interfering with Vanderbilt's business plans, the tycoon decided to fight Walker with competingmercenaries. Four bloody years later, Vanderbilt had prevailed, and Walker died in front of a Honduran firing squad. Dando-Collins juggles disparate elements to maintain cohesion in a convoluted history of military campaigns, changes in governments, complicated business transactions and bizarre backdoor diplomatic dealings.
From the Publisher
Magill Book Review, October 2009
“Highly recommended”

Bookgasm.com, 2/18/10
“A riveting read of battle and adventure in Central America of the 1850s…An amazing story of how deeply entrenched Americans have been in Central American life and politics…If you have any interest in Central American history…this is a fascinating book, and well worth your time.”

History in Review, 5/3/10
“A well-written history, with much interesting information, and it reads like a drama.”
 

The Lone Star, November 2010
“Tells, for the first time, the complete story of this epic clash of wills…Reveals the incredible truth behind Vanderbilt’s legendary financial empire, showing just how far he was willing to go to keep it. This very interesting book will amaze you.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786731619
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
09/22/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
426,502
File size:
3 MB

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