Astor: The Rise and Fall of an American Fortune
Named a Best Biography Book for 2023
A NPR Best Book of the Year
The number one New York Times bestselling authors of Vanderbilt return with another riveting history of a legendary American family, the Astors, and how they built and lavished their fortune.
The story of the Astors is a quintessentially American story—of ambition, invention, destruction, and reinvention.
From 1783, when German immigrant John Jacob Astor first arrived in the United States, until 2009, when Brooke Astor’s son, Anthony Marshall, was convicted of defrauding his elderly mother, the Astor name occupied a unique place in American society.
The family fortune, first made by a beaver trapping business that grew into an empire, was then amplified by holdings in Manhattan real estate. Over the ensuing generations, Astors ruled Gilded Age New York society and inserted themselves into political and cultural life, but also suffered the most famous loss on the Titanic, one of many shocking and unexpected twists in the family’s story.
In this unconventional, page-turning historical biography, featuring black-and-white and color photographs, #1 New York Times bestselling authors Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe chronicle the lives of the Astors and explore what the Astor name has come to mean in America—offering a window onto the making of America itself.
Praise for Astor: The Rise and Fall of an American Fortune
“A lively, well-written and satisfyingly detailed account of the family that came to own New York. . . . Astor provides a fascinating history of the city, from the populist riots in 1849 stirred up by a production of Macbeth at the Astor Opera House to the gay scene that thrived for decades in the bar of the Astor Hotel that once stood on Broadway at 44th Street.” — Wall Street Journal
“A must-read. . . . Cooper and Howe dig into one of the United States' most influential families and a parable of capitalism, commerce, and greed that established an American way of life.” — Entertainment Weekly
"A rich history about the ways in which the very name of the mega-rich weakens through ubiquity and hubris." — Chicago Tribune
“A worthy companion to superstar journalist Cooper's and novelist Howe's bestselling account of Cooper's own family, Vanderbilt. Once again, the authors offer an engaging, multigenerational story that is factual and nuanced. . . . Another nonfiction winner from the duo.” — Booklist (starred review)
“This meticulously detailed family saga is also rich with insight into U.S. history, including revealing chapters on topics ranging from mid-19th-century populist sentiments concerning Shakespeare (the Astor Opera House staged a performance of Macbeth that was widely reviled for its high ticket price) and the early 20th-century gay scene (when the Astor Hotel became a queer rendezvous spot). History buffs and readers fascinated by the rich and famous should take note.” — Publishers Weekly
“A brisk, entertaining history of the Astors, a storied dynasty that left an indelible mark on New York’s streets, parks, museums, libraries, hotels, and a famous gay bar. . . . A spirited saga of glitz and greed.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Splendid. . . . haunting and beautifully written. . . . This is a terrific book.” — Washington Post on Vanderbilt
"An incredible story." — People on Vanderbilt
“A dramatic tale expertly told of rapacious ambition, decadent excess, and covert and overt tyranny and trauma. . . . With resplendent detail, the authors capture the gasp-eliciting extravagance of the Vanderbilt Gilded Age mansions. . . . With its intrinsic empathy and in-depth profiles of women, this is a distinctly intimate, insightful, and engrossing chronicle of an archetypal, self-consuming American dynasty. . . . Irresistible.” — Booklist (starred review) on Vanderbilt
“Marked by meticulous research and deep emotional insight, this is a memorable chronicle of American royalty.” — Publishers Weekly on Vanderbilt