Born into one of the wealthiest families in America—he was the youngest son of Standard Oil scion John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the celebrated patron of modern art Abby Aldrich Rockefeller—David Rockefeller has carried his birthright into a distinguished life of his own. His dealings with world leaders from Zhou Enlai and Mikhail Gorbachev to Anwar Sadat and Ariel Sharon, his service to every American president since Eisenhower, his remarkable world travels and personal dedication to his home city of New York—here, the ﬁrst time a Rockefeller has told his own story, is an account of a truly rich life.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
David Rockefeller was chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the Chase bank for many years. He has since retired and currently sits on many project and charity boards. He lives in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
There is a picture of all the men in the family waiting at the Tarrytown station for the train carrying Grandfather's casket from his winter home in Ormond Beach, Florida. He died quietly in his bed on May 23, 1937, at the age of ninety-seven. While the official cause of death was sclerotic myocarditis, it would be simpler to say he died of old age. I had known him as "Grandfather," not the "robber baron" or great philanthropist of the history books. He had been a constant presence in my childhood: benign, indulgent, revered by my father, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and by the family as a whole.
Looking at that picture today, I find it remarkable how well it captured our relationships with one another, where we were in life, and, perhaps, where we would all be going.
John, characteristically, stands on the periphery. Thirty-one years old, he is the oldest son, inheritor of the dynastic name. After he graduated from Princeton, Father put him on the boards of many family institutions, among them the Rockefeller Foundation, the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, and Colonial Williamsburg, grooming him to be the family leader, but he is shy and uncertain of his abilities.
Nelson, also characteristically, has managed to situate himself at the exact center of the picture and stares authoritatively at the camera. At twenty-nine he will soon become president of Rockefeller Center.
Laurance, twenty-seven, the philosopher and businessman, gazes into the middle distance. He was emerging as a leading investor in the aviation industry and, with Eddie Rickenbacker, the World War I Flying Ace, would soon buy a large stake in Eastern Airlines.
Winthrop is the handsomest. Somehow Mother's Aldrich features-which one might describe as having a lot of "character"-combined with the Rockefeller genes to produce almost movie-star good looks. Win is the most troubled of us and never quite fitted in. Now twenty-five, he is working as a "roughneck" in the Texas oil fields.
I am the youngest, twenty-one years old, and look very wet behind the ears. I have just completed my first year of graduate work in economics at Harvard and will leave that summer to continue my studies at the London School of Economics.
Father, beginning to show his sixty-three years, presides over us all, completely forthright, a friendly, kind face. Perhaps a little distant.
We brought Grandfather back to the mansion that he and Father had built twenty-five years earlier on the family estate at Pocantico Hills. Called Kykuit, the Dutch word for "lookout," its hilltop site commands a magnificent view of the Hudson River. The next day, with only immediate family and a few close friends present, we held a service for him. I remember it was a beautiful spring day, the French doors open to the terrace, and the Hudson River a glistening blue below us. His favorite organist, Dr. Archer Gibson, played the large pipe organ in the main hall, on which we used to pretend to perform when we were children. Harry Emerson Fosdick, senior minister of Riverside Church, which was built by Father, gave the eulogy.
After the service, as everyone milled about, Mr. Yordi, Grandfather's valet, gestured to me. Yordi, a dapper Swiss fellow, had been Grandfather's valet and constant companion for thirty years. I knew him well, but he had always been reserved in my presence. I went over to him, and he pulled me aside, into a deserted hallway. "You know, Mr. David," he began (from as early as I can remember, the staff always addressed us in that way, "Mr. Rockefeller" being too confusing with so many of us with that name, and first names would have been too familiar), "of all you brothers, your grandfather always thought you were the most like him." I must have looked very surprised. It was the last thing I expected him to say. "Yes," he said, "you were very much his favorite." I thanked him somewhat awkwardly, but he just waved his hand and said, "No, no, I just thought you should know." I didn't really know what to make of it. I thought it would have been Nelson, but I couldn't pretend I wasn't pleased.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I didn't go into this book with high expectations. I left it impressed. Rockefeller provides us with a front row seat to his life in vivid detail walking us through both the monumental moments in his life that formed who he would be as a man, a leader and an entrepreneur but also the relevant behind-the-scenes view into the life and family whose name is as synonymous with wealth as Michael Jordan is to basketball around the world. This was not an entreaty to his greatness but a humble, clear and engaging review of his life in words. It is sometimes hard to remove yourself from the events but Rockefeller accomplishes this with surprising ease and deftness while also providing the reader with as objective a thought surrounding those he interacted with as well as his own actions.
As a historian I am always looking for new secondary (and primary) resources, and I found an excellent one in Memoirs. David Rockefeller offers an account of life as he knew it during a pivitol time in history. His experiences are made real, but he does not attempt to create a picture of himself as a piece of American Royalty. Rather, he was an American a man who experienced much by the opportunity that was available to him.
This book is the sound summery of the events of the 20th century, from the ultimate American prospective. It is not self-diaries as it may sound. He neither describes deep feelings, emotions, sentiments, nor go graphic, patriotic, proud, nor even try to pull your feet to stand in his boots in any fashion. He just recorded what happened in the manners that a clerk of the circuit court, or a military operations records keeper would write what occurred. It is not coming out as a dry textbook though. The visual observations of events and dialogues can help you vision the events and the meetings that he had with people around the world, as if you're watching a good movie. I can tell that some of the lines took long hard work to refine, in an extreme attempt to be 'politically correct' as much as possible. I can even sense that some of the events were not completely identified, due to confidentiality of the event, or critical details that may affect current events, or shed some light on current economic puzzles that have no answers yet. No doubt that the inquiries that rise, regarding the details and the side events, can have David Rockefeller write many other books. However, I feel that these books, if ever written, would never come out to light today, or even a few decades from now. His nature as a previous member of the clandestine, his power grip on his businesses, and his strait forward approach in his memoirs, can help you read the book from start to end, almost non stop. However, you shall end up with more questions than you have started.
A Well-Written but Disappointing MemoirI was disappointed with David Rockefeller¿s Memoirs. While his observations on his early life were insightful, he failed to deal realistically with his career at Chase Manhattan.Throughout the book, he touts his personal connections with world leaders as the reason Chase Manhattan became a leading international bank. Yet he all but ignores that this debt was a major cause of the bank¿s downfall. If he takes credit for the connections, he should assume responsibility when the debt defaults.On the other hand, I found his observations about his brother, Nelson, unique and insightful. He sees the greatness tempered by the flaws.In my mind the highlights of David Rockefeller¿s career start when he retired from Chase Manhattan and dedicated himself to the family office. The story of the sale and subsequent repurchase of Rockefeller Center represents the pinnacle of a financial career.This is a well-written book. For someone, like me with an interest in finance and public service, it is a great read. David Rockefeller would rate five stars if only he had dealt more candidly with his failures at Chase Manhattan.
Our Enneagram Meet-up Group in New York City decided that David Rockefeller would be a good person as a good representative of the Personality Type 3 (achiever) to read about. This is a very complete book about Rockefeler and his associates and one does get the feeling that he has few secrets to hide. It is well written for which he had a lot of help from his colleagues. I think Rockefller sees this book as a chart of his legacy as major banker in the United States. The one thing I did not really find in his book was a sense of closeness to his children.
A wonderful life, not just enjoying his wealth, but sharing and looking for a much better world.
One might be tempted to think that David Rockefeller is just a little rich kid who did things in life solely because of his grandfather's money. His memoirs reveal that to be absolutely false. Mr. Rockefeller is very much a fascinating man in his own right, an excellent and gutsy manager, a fighter within a family of outsize egos, a philanthropist who really understands what he is doing. Although his memoirs reveal something of a distant man, they are uniformly fascinating and make for compelling reading.