The Most Successful Businessman Of America

ISBN: 1400077303

Titan is the biography of John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil, a company that played the largest role in establishing the oil sector in the United States using both controversial strong-arm tactics and brilliant business foresight. The book starts from John’s childhood and makes its way to his death, finely detailing his life, family, and business experiences, giving you a personal look into one of the most notorious figures in American history.

We first learn of John’s childhood. His father Bill was a snake oil salesman who would sell his cancer and pain cures at inflated prices to naive townsfolk. Other times he would arrive into small towns acting deaf and dumb to unload his stock of novelties. He was also a philanderer who would cavort with other women, eventually settling into a bigamist marriage in another state, leaving John, his siblings, and his mother little money to fend for themselves in Ohio.

Before long, Big Bill roughly disabused Eliza [John’s mother] of any high-flown romantic notions she might have had about matrimony. Far from renouncing his girlfriend, Nancy Brown, he brought her into the cramped house as a “housekeeper” and began having children, alternately, by wife and mistress. In 1838, Eliza gave birth to their first child, Lucy, followed a few months later by Nancy’s first illegitimate daughter, Clorinda.


Perhaps out of a self-protective instinct, Bill taught his children to be wary of strangers and even of himself. When John was a child, Bill would urge him to leap from his high chair into his waiting arms. One day, he dropped his arms, letting his astonished son crash to the floor. “Remember,” Bill lectured him, “never trust anyone completely, not even me.”

His disciplinarian and religious mother gave him many tools to be a good businessman by the time he was a teenager (he was in charge of several household responsibilities due to the absence left by his father). When it was time for him to look for a job at 16, he cold-called nearly every respectable firm in Cleveland.

Despite incessant disappointment, he doggedly pursued a position. Each morning, he left his boardinghouse at eight o’clock, clothed in a dark suit with a high collar and black tie, to make his rounds of appointed firms. This grimly determined trek went on each day— six days a week for six consecutive weeks— until late in the afternoon. The streets were so hot and hard that he grew footsore from pacing them. His perseverance surely owed something to his desire to end his reliance upon his fickle father. At one point, Bill suggested that if John didn’t find work he might have to return to the country; the thought of such dependence upon his father made “a cold chill” run down his spine, Rockefeller later said. Because he approached his job hunt devoid of any doubt or self-pity, he could stare down all discouragement. “I was working every day at my business— the business of looking for work. I put in my full time at this every day.”


…the job prospects were momentarily bleak. “No one wanted a boy, and very few showed any overwhelming anxiety to talk with me on the subject,” said Rockefeller. 29 When he exhausted his list, he simply started over from the top and visited several firms two or three times. Another boy might have been crestfallen, but Rockefeller was the sort of stubborn person who only grew more determined with rejection.

He began working as an accountant, learning the double-entry bookkeeping system that would later be important in helping him understand which parts of his oil business were gaining or losing money. He was a natural at it…

Despite his youth, Rockefeller soon came to feel that he was being underpaid. When Tuttle quit in January 1857, Rockefeller was elevated to chief bookkeeper, performing, at the age of seventeen, all the tasks formerly discharged by the departed partner.

He never felt appreciated at his firm, so he took a 10% interest loan from his father and started a partnership at the age of 18 that bought groceries and produce in bulk before selling to stores. By the age of 20, he had gained more business experience and wisdom than those 10 years his senior.

When he rested his head on the pillow at night, he warned himself, “Because you have got a start, you think you are quite a merchant; look out, or you will lose your head— go steady. Are you going to let this money puff you up? Keep your eyes open. Don’t lose your balance.”


Having discarded several older partners, the young man had no real business mentors, heroes, or role models and was beholden to no one. John D. Rockefeller was not only self-made but self-invented and already had unyielding faith in his own judgment.


With fluctuating market conditions, he sometimes needed to send shipments to New York with great dispatch and personally rushed down to the railroad tracks to motivate his freight handlers. “I shall never forget how hungry I was in those days. I stayed out of doors day and night; I ran up and down the tops of freight cars when necessary; I hurried up the boys.”


Twenty-nine-year-old John D. Rockefeller demanded that seventy-four-year-old Commodore Vanderbilt, the emperor of the railroad world, come to him. This refusal to truckle, bend, or bow to others, this insistence on dealing with other people on his own terms, time, and turf, distinguished Rockefeller throughout his career.

Once he moved into the oil refining business, a big constraint on his profits became railroad shipping costs. He was able to gain rebates since he shipped so much (the rebates were essentially bulk discounts), but this received criticism for being unfair and was soon declared illegal because railroads were seen as “common carriers” that should serve the public interest. Whether you need to ship 1 barrel of oil or 1000, the cost per unit should be the same. John argued against this, stating that shipping 1000 barrels should have a cheaper unit price, but the public did not agree, even though bulk pricing is quite the rule today with business.

Even after rebates were made illegal, John still partook in them with handshake deals. It was the source of much of the attacks he received for being a monopolist robber baron. The rebates were effective, however, in squeezing out his smaller competitors until he controlled over 70% of the oil business in America.

Economic historians often cite the exuberance of Gilded Age businessmen, their red-blooded faith in America’s future, without noting the constant uncertainty that lurked underneath. As Rockefeller’s story shows, many of the age’s most controversial business practices were forged in a desperate spirit of self-preservation. “It was forced upon us,” Rockefeller said of Standard Oil’s genesis. “We had to do it in self-defence. The oil business was in confusion and daily growing worse. Someone had to make a stand.”


For his admirers, 1872 was the annus mirabilis of John D. Rockefeller’s life, while for his critics it constituted the darkest chapter. The year revealed both his finest and most problematic qualities as a businessman: his visionary leadership, his courageous persistence, his capacity to think in strategic terms, but also his lust for domination, his messianic self-righteousness, and his contempt for those shortsighted mortals who made the mistake of standing in his way. What rivals saw as a naked power grab, Rockefeller regarded as a heroic act of salvation, nothing less than the rescue of the oil business.

If he didn’t buy out his competitors outright, he would temporarily undercut their prices so that they wouldn’t eventually drag down his own business. He wanted to bring stability to the industry by cooperating with other firms, not only to save on freight through rebates, but to limit production and keep oil prices high so that refining remained profitable in the turbulent period of early oil exploration.

If, as he asserted, Standard Oil was the efficient, low-cost producer in Cleveland, why didn’t he just sit back and wait for competitors to go bankrupt? Why did he resort to the tremendous expense of taking over rivals and dismembering their refineries to slash capacity? According to the standard textbook models of competition, as oil prices fell below production costs, refiners should have retrenched and padlocked plants. But the oil market didn’t correct itself in this manner because refiners carried heavy bank debt and other fixed costs, and they discovered that, by operating at a loss, they could still service some debt. Obviously, they couldn’t lose money indefinitely, but as they soldiered on to postpone bankruptcy, their output dragged oil prices down to unprofitable levels for everybody.


Rockefeller and his associates had long been haunted by two antithetical nightmares: Either the oil would dry up, starving their network of pipelines and refineries, or they would drown in a sea of cheap oil that would drag prices below their overhead costs. At one panicky executive-committee meeting in the early 1880s, it was even suggested that Standard Oil should exit the business and enter something more stable. After listening quietly to such defeatist talk, Rockefeller stood up, pointed skyward, and intoned, “The Lord will provide.” Rockefeller tended to see a heavenly design in all things and was convinced that the Almighty had buried the oil in the earth for a purpose.

He was essentially the sole reason that anti-trust regulation came into being…

With his customary thoroughness, Rockefeller had devised an encyclopedic stock of anticompetitive weapons. Since he had figured out every conceivable way to restrain trade, rig markets, and suppress competition, all reform-minded legislators had to do was study his career to draw up a comprehensive antitrust agenda.


Standard Oil had taught the American public an important but paradoxical lesson: Free markets, if left completely to their own devices, can wind up terribly unfree. Competitive capitalism did not exist in a state of nature but had to be defined or restrained by law. Unfettered markets tended frequently toward monopoly or, at least, toward unhealthy levels of concentration, and government sometimes needed to intervene to ensure the full benefits of competition.

He had dedicated critics attacking him and the Standard Oil trust. It was known as a “trust” because he collected independent entities under the Standard Oil banner without micromanaging their business. He didn’t have a 100% stake in every subsidiary of Standard Oil.

As the trusts’ power rippled through society, he said, it corrupted every corner of American life. The noble experiment of American democracy was being undermined by businessmen who had grown more powerful than the state and controlled its elected representatives. “Our system, so fair in its theory and so fertile in its happiness and prosperity in its first century, is now, following the fate of systems, becoming artificial, technical, corrupt.”

He was mercilessly vilified in the press. One of the reasons for it was that he had a rule never to talk to them. Back in the days before public relations, corporations didn’t know how to deal with the media in a way that would make them appear favorable. Unfortunately for John, this allowed them to set the narrative of his business dealings in the worst way possible. The public was all aboard when Teddy Roosevelt came in to break up Standard Oil. Only problem is that it made John even richer.

Those who had seen the Standard Oil dissolution as condign punishment for Rockefeller were in for a sad surprise: It proved to be the luckiest stroke of his career. Precisely because he lost the antitrust suit, Rockefeller was converted from a mere millionaire, with an estimated net worth of $ 300 million in 1911, into something just short of history’s first billionaire. In December 1911, he was finally able to jettison the presidency of Standard Oil, but he continued to hold on to his immense shareholdings. As the owner of about one quarter of the shares of the old trust, Rockefeller now got a one-quarter share of the new Standard Oil of New Jersey, plus one quarter of the thirty-three independent subsidiary companies created by the decision.


Rockefeller’s stepchildren would be everywhere: Standard Oil of New Jersey (Exxon), Standard Oil of New York (Mobil), Standard Oil of Indiana (Amoco), Standard Oil of California (Chevron), Atlantic Refining (ARCO and eventually Sun), Continental Oil (Conoco), today a unit of DuPont, and Chesebrough-Ponds, which had begun by processing petroleum jelly. Three offspring— Exxon, Mobil, and Chevron— would belong to the Seven Sisters group that would dominate the world oil industry in the twentieth century; a fourth sister, British Petroleum, later took over Standard Oil of Ohio, then known as Sohio. It was certainly not their intention, but the trustbusters helped to preserve Rockefeller’s legacy for posterity and unquestionably made him the world’s richest man.

His religious upbringing didn’t encourage much in the way of vice…

Since evangelicals abstained from dancing, cards, and theater, Rockefeller restricted his private life to church socials and picnics, where he could play blindman’s buff and engage in other innocent pastimes. As a model Baptist, he was sought after by the young ladies. “The girls all liked John immensely,” said one congregant. “Some of them came dangerously near to being in love with him. He was not especially attractive in his person and his clothes were strenuously plain and well worn. He was thought much of by these spiritual minded young women because of his goodness, his religious fervor, his earnestness and willingness in the church, and his apparent sincerity and honesty of purpose.”

Women back then were made of a different stock, using the church to guide their lives and family. They had values that were primarily concerned with being a good wife and mother instead of careerism and attention seeking. His wife, Cettie, was unquestionably faithful to him for their entire marriage. Not until she was dead did he let loose a little…

Rockefeller increasingly used the afternoon drives as opportunities for hanky-panky. Wearing thick black or amber goggles to screen out the sun, he sometimes borrowed a veil from one of the lady passengers and laced it dramatically across his face and wound it around his ears. He sat tightly wedged in the backseat between two buxom women, usually neighbors or visitors, with their laps covered by a blanket, and he became notorious for his hot schoolboy hands roving under the blanket. The man who had been a model of self-mastery now seemed, on occasion, an itchy-fingered old satyr. Tom Pyle, the head gardener and gamekeeper at Pocantico, steered the second car in the daily motorcade and was often astonished at his employer’s outrageous behavior. When Rockefeller’s car stopped one afternoon at a traffic light, a young woman riding in the backseat with him suddenly burst forth and scrambled back to Pyle’s car. “That old rooster!” she said. “He ought to be handcuffed.” Pyle noted that some local matrons enjoyed the hot seat and frequently returned for more. “I never decided whether different women received different treatment or whether some found it acceptable to be pinched by a ninety-year-old multimillionaire.”

His thoughts on business…

“Often the best way to develop workers— when you are sure they have character and think they have ability— is to take them to a deep place, throw them in and make them sink or swim”


As Rockefeller instructed a recruit, “Has anyone given you the law of these offices? No? It is this: nobody does anything if he can get anybody else to do it.… As soon as you can, get some one whom you can rely on, train him in the work, sit down, cock up your heels, and think out some way for the Standard Oil to make some money.”


“And I rejoice also that we are charitable and sweet-spirited to these jealous, small men who made it the business of their lives to try to pull us down because their vision did not extend beyond the ends of their noses.”


As the organization grew, he continued to operate by consensus, taking no major initiative opposed by board members. Because all ideas had to meet the supreme test of unanimous approval among strong-minded men, Standard Oil made few major missteps. As Rockefeller said, “We made sure that we were right and had planned for every contingency before we went ahead.”


The committees encouraged rivalry among local units by circulating performance figures and encouraging them to compete for records and prizes. The point is vitally important, for monopolies, spared the rod of competition, can easily lapse into sluggish giants.

A recurring theme in the book is that men who made decisions out of anger or irritation often suffered large downfalls (one man sold out to a young Rockefeller in anger for $1 million when his share would have ended up being worth $900 million). John always remained his cool, never once suffering a monumental business blunder. He was also a secretive man who did not like displaying his wealth, going out of his way not to show off (compare that to the behavior of Jay Z, whose record company Roc-a-fella is named after John).

Schooled in secrecy, he trained his face to be a stony mask so that when underlings brought him telegrams, they couldn’t tell from his expression whether the news was favorable or not. Rockefeller equated silence with strength: Weak men had loose tongues and blabbed to reporters, while prudent businessmen kept their own counsel. Two of his most cherished maxims were “Success comes from keeping the ears open and the mouth closed” and “A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds.”


Never dazzled by New York, Rockefeller was insulated from the beau monde that threw costly dinners and costume balls and frequented the theater, opera, and clubs. He had no interest in debauchery, and it is hard to picture him milling about with portly men smoking cigars or women wearing expensive furs and jewels. The newspapers noted his total boycott of social functions. As one periodical said, “He never entertains notables, his home is never given to entertainment, and he follows the policy of self-effacement at all times and in all places.” Although he joined the Union League Club, Rockefeller did not feel comfortable with the splendor of the Astors and Vanderbilts.


“Great wealth is a great burden, a great responsibility. It invariably proves to be one of two things— either a great blessing or a great curse.”


He liked to say that “a man’s wealth must be determined by the relation of his desires and expenditures to his income. If he feels rich on ten dollars, and has everything else he desires, he really is rich.”

Nonetheless, wealth did bring him isolation and loneliness…

Rockefeller had few, if any, real friends and was isolated by his wealth. Visiting Rockefeller at a southern hotel around 1910, Gates found him rather lonely and forlorn and suggested he contact some cultivated local men. “Well, Mr. Gates,” said Rockefeller, “if you suppose I have not thought about the matter you are mistaken. I have made some experiments. And nearly always the result is the same— along about the ninth hole out comes some proposition, charitable or financial!”


“I have lent and given people money, and then seen them cross the street so that they would not have to speak to me.”

This scenario would be repeated for his son, who was essentially a slave to the massive fortune that his father gave him.

In his later years, John focused on philanthropy. His donations eliminated hookworm in the South, spurned development of high school education, upgraded teaching standards of medical universities, and introduced scientific research at the advanced level of what was happening in Europe.

“Instead of giving alms to beggars, if anything can be done to remove the causes which lead to the existence of beggars, then something deeper and broader and more worthwhile will have been accomplished.”

Is John D. Rockefeller a man who should be celebrated or reviled? He was viciously anti-competitive, putting many men out of business, though he did have a price stabilizing effect on oil which was beneficial for consumers. At the same time, his associates bribed public officials to eliminate competition and prevent anti-trust legislation. Perhaps to atone for these sins, he gave away most of his wealth by the time he died.

I see him as a brilliant but morally gray man. While I don’t agree with much of his actions, I don’t see him worse than the business elite we’re forced to endure today, especially in the American finance sector. It’s no surprise that stripping away finance regulation has led to many of the abuses we saw in John’s time but on a more technologically advanced level.

Even though the timeline was all over the place, this was an excellent book that painted a clear picture of the man and what made him a business success, while offering enough personal details that you felt like you knew him. Highly recommended.

Read More: “Titan” on Amazon

93 thoughts on “The Most Successful Businessman Of America”

  1. Ha! I actually just finished reading that book. It’s definitely a great read and definitely a must read for any young entrepreneur. Whether if John was right or wrong is irrelevant. The man did what he thought was necessary during that time period. When you are in a position such as John, you have to do what is necessary. What’s necessary isn’t always see as right by the masses, but then again.. that’s why they are the masses.
    He’s villified greatly and held as an example of what capitalism does. However, people forget that he was one of the first pioneers of philanthropy. Philanthropy = sharing your wealth. The money he donated contributed to many scientific and medical developments in the early 20th century. I dare say he and many other tycoons (Andrew Carnegie, William Clark, etc) did more for the poor folk than the government ever did.
    One major thing that I liked about John was that he doesn’t fit the typical image of what a lot of men and women see as a “real” man today. John never drink or smoke. He did not party. He was not pious. He was humble. He was a great husband and father and always put his family first.. unlike his father who was the complete opposite.

  2. For people interestedin businessmen of his age then I suggest “Men who built America” video series.

  3. “Once he moved into the oil refining business, a big constraint on his profits became railroad shipping costs. He was able to gain (bulk discounts) since he shipped so much, but this received criticism for being unfair and was soon declared illegal because railroads were seen as “common carriers” that should serve the public interest.”
    This passage makes me think about the debate on Net Neutrality. The Internet, today, is the modern railroad of yesterday.

  4. “While I don’t agree with much of his actions, I don’t see him worse than the business elite we’re forced to endure today”
    Dude was a piece of shit. Like all the rest of the scum inbreds who rape our country’s wealth every day – he led the way. They print money and start wars. They manipulate small print and fund false flag events. They pay-off our politicians, and anybody who speaks out against their methods are swiftly annihilated in the media they own, or plain offed.
    They are caught red-handed every day with their fat dirty fingers in the cookie jar of other people’s wealth. They build railroads so the banks (they own) in each town can fuck the people raw by adjusting the financial spigots, just so. In the end, the wealth is transferred directly into the insatiably greedy pockets of a class of individuals who are the bane of any decent civilization. If you find yourself in the middle of a dystopian nightmare, bread & circused police state – this fucking alien is the master technician behind the curtain.

    1. Don’t be naive. The ruthless ambition you described are is precisely what built human civilization in the first place.
      Greed is to be regulated and harnessed for national gain, not discounted altogether.

      1. Greed cannot be harnessed for good, because the very nature of greed is to destroy all that is good and healthy.

        1. Lol, and yet this website was made because we cant help but be ruled by lust. Do you see the irony in this. Anyway….
          Greed is not entropic like sloth but damn near synonomous with ambitious. It is a form of hunger. Unregulated greed, like unregulated hungry, leads to gluttony, eating (obtaining) for the sake of itself and eventually the critical mass (pun intended) of stressors of maintaining wonton decodance will be the greedy ones downfall. However when one moderates greed for something or one other than just themselves, that is when progress for a group can be noted.
          Consider the difference between Alexander the Great, the Macadonia King and those that started the Revolutionary War. Alexander the Great wanted to rule the world if for no other reason then to prove it could be done. When a flu took his life at a young age, was there a moderating agenda/ideal that made sure that his kingdom would remain intact and peace would ensue. Nope. The 4 generals quickly split the empires up and fought among themselves only to be swallowed up by the Romans. On the other hand, America was greedy for independance not for powers sake, but for the sake of what they claimed was an infrigement on natural inalienable rights. They unified the 13 colonies and even supplicated the French, which is like us asking Russia for help with anything. Why because they were not greedy for themselves but for something higher than themselves. Check the legacy of that today, though it has been corrupted, it is the youngest empire with the most clout. That should be enough of an explanation as to how greed can be good.

        2. Is it not greed that has caused every skyscaper and every large city to be built. Is greed not the reason I own some apartments? It’s sure as hell not because I like knocking on peoples doors to ask them where the rent is. It’s not because it’s my dream to house people. It’s because I want to make as much money for me as possible and have something of real value to pass on to my kids. And everybody needs someplace to live. Plus I get to learn tons of useful skills like plumbing, electrical work, drywall, carpentry, flooring, painting, gardening, etc…
          But I’m not learning those because I want to make other peoples lives better. I’m learning those because I want to make my life better. Yet I’m having my tenants have a pretty descent home life in the process. Hence, my greed is benefiting those directly around me.
          Now not all greed is good. The renter whom decides they are too greedy to pay me gets kicked out and we all waste time in court for me to get a judgement against them.
          Before anyone jumps all over me as an evil landlord or some great businessman, I own a meager 11 units while also holding down another job and I give my tenants plenty of chances to be honest with me and get caught up on rent. Most of the time anyway.

      1. Bingo. ENVY is a dangerous reaction. I can’t tell you how many times in history this pathetic emotion has caused idiots to give government the power of a god to crush the person they’re envious of.

    2. Absolutely. The guy was without a doubt a selfish, greedy psychopath and Satan worshipper (like all elites). The elites are the enemy of the masses, but most people are too stupid to realise it.

      1. Incorrect, the elites LOVE the masses. They simply hate it when anyone is in a position to challenge, threaten, or water down their privileges.
        But believe me, they LOVE uneducated hordes of slaves… it’s the middle class that they have declared war upon. a single mom&pop shop is a million times as threatening as a horde of rioters.

  5. It’s not the lack of regulations on finance that causes the problems, it’s the government regulation itself that causes all financial meltdowns. The finance industry is just a mirror of gov’t policy. It simply reacts to the incentives that the gov’t creates. Insuring every mortgage in the U.S. backed by tax payers ensured an over-investment in real estate and the ensuing bubble. You can trace every financial crisis back to the gov’t or a related agency such as the Fed.

    1. EXACTLY – the whole point of the capitalist system is that the best man wins…. You can’t promote that system and then castrate the winner…. Neither can you have a heavy handed government that can be more easily manipulated by the winners than the losers….. You just have to let the smartest operators and the best products float naturally to the top.
      Joe Public needs to wise up and stop relying on the nanny state to do due diligence for him.
      Any man who puts his money down for any product should be doing his own investigation and any brand name should be seeking the highest quality and reputation.
      With the telecoms we have today, this is easier than ever.

      1. In a capitalist system, unfortunately it is not the best man who wins, but corporations. Capitalism implies the formation of oligopolies that surf on the cognitive biases of the population. Capitalism is a system that ultimately encourages short-term profits and thus ultimately will self-destruct. I hate big corporations and capitalism altogether. If by capitalism you mean liberalism, yes I am with you. Liberalism as defined by Adam Smith, implies the idea of competition and free-enterprise where no profit is possible since you have a perfect competition. Capitalism = Oligopolies and corporations lobbying the State to undercut competition, Liberalism = Competition and no profit.

        1. you may recall in 2001, microsoft and nokia ruled the day, while apple was going bankrupt…. then not long ago blackberry had a virtual monopoly on cell phones…. where did nokia go?
          this is just one tiny example… there are hundreds like these….. GM used to be a monster gobbling up smaller car makers around the world, now there are a dozen companies that they can’t poke a stick at with their Detroit crap….
          in the UK Tescos was the cheap crap supermarket, now it dominates because it upped its game….
          it used to cost 50cents to $1 to send an international SMS until Whatsapp destroyed the market…..
          etc. etc. etc.
          now try and tell me that the corporations can maintain a never ending strangle hold… it’s just not the case….
          the bigger the company gets, the more conservative and managerial it becomes…. the more profit it makes the more it rests on tried and tested models…. why didn’t verizon, vodafone or T-mobile build Whatsapp and monopolize it ?
          How the fuck did facebook become a multi billion dollar company out of nothing ? why didn’t MSN or Google or Yahoo, or etc. make it instead and dominate ?
          in a new company, the CEO a risk taking high flyer, driven by ambition to make a mark on the world and produce a product of excellence, later he’s some stuffy old man (or these days some feminist troll bitch), that wouldn’t risk a parking fine, much less the shareholders dividends.

        2. Bingo! I’ll never understand why people like Jake buy that bullshit. Too much TV I guess.

      2. What about extreme inherited wealth? Surely then that person is better than you and me for being born super rich

        1. after a couple of generations, extreme inherited wealth most often breeds lazy, playboy types that are clueless in business because they never had to make a buck… worse they operate with a huge fear of loss because they have all that responsibility and everything to lose….
          read some autobiographies…. the self made guys with nothing to lose and a passion for what they are doing rise to the top….
          if the world is monopolized with inherited wealth then where the fuck did Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Paul Tudor Jones and dozens of others get their billions from….
          what you have to understand is that the whole marxist thing is built on dismantling monarchies….
          all the hatred of wealth and the concept of borgoise etc… was wealth AND title inherited…. it was an aggressive class / caste system where the little guy could never more forwards….. and debauched kings handed all the wealth down to even more degenerate offspring…..
          the only antidote to this was bloody revolution and as society got a little more civilized they realised that this was not the best solution…. thus socialism and democracy grew instead of pitchforks and guillotines….
          but hating wealthy people per say is fucking ridiculous.

        2. “all the hatred of wealth and the concept of borgoise etc… was wealth
          AND title inherited…. it was an aggressive class / caste system where
          the little guy could never more forwards….. and debauched kings handed
          all the wealth down to even more degenerate offspring…..”
          Yup. IOW, government was the real problem.

        3. as the general wealth and technology (especially firearms) increased the kings became obsolete, a castle could not keep cannons and muskets out….
          so too today, as the telcoms have increased, the democratic 20th Century style government has become obsolete….
          sadly grubby, greedy, good for nothing political types, useless lawyers, useless tax accountants and etc. etc. won’t give up their strangehold – just as kings wouldn’t go without a revolution….
          so we’re approaching some major meltdown that will shift us into a kind of anarchistic technological style of existence, without central government…..
          the question is only whether we wind up back in the dark ages, or that process goes ‘relatively’ smoothly.

    2. You make it sound as if the gov’t and financial sectors are complete strangers or adversaries.
      They’re conjoined twins.
      The gov’t insured every mortgage because that’s what the financial industry lobbied them to do.
      Not one bit of financial policy goes into effect without the fat cats either approving it or outright writing the legislation to be passed.

      1. yes, and thus we see that the problem is not corporate monopolies, but government monopolies…. the government has a monopoly….. and creates corporate monopolies…….
        without aggressive, bloated government and all it’s red tape, monopolies will be far harder if not impossible to create.

  6. I’d suggest for every one to watch the mini series ‘The Men who built America’. I don’t even think Rocafella has shit on the Rothchilds though

    1. The Rothschilds are the most powerful family in the world, Medici on steroids. How many central banks to they control?

  7. This cocksucker is one of the biggest psychopaths of our times and responsible for an unbelievable amount of suffering through his involvement in oil, drugs and usury. He and his ilk are our ENEMIES. Shame on this article for even entertaining the possibility of anything else.

    1. Regardless of how you feel about the man, study his tactics and prep urself against anyone who uses the same style. Even if you don’t believe in adopting the style doesn’t mean you don’t learn it so u can form counters. Life is like MMA, the more one dimensional ur style is, the more ways u can be taken down.

      1. great point! As the good book says we are to be” wise as a serpent but meek as a dove” Unfortuntely modern churchianity only emphases the latter

  8. Jeez. If you Americans still believe you can learn to be entrepreneurs from the likes of Rockefeller, you really have learned shit from history. And those who don’t learn from history are doomed to replay it.

    1. The article wasnt about trying to learn about being an entrepreneur. It was about looking into yourself, and ONLY yourself to find the knowledge and strength you need to be successful.

    2. This article was just for general interest. It was not about teaching us to be entrepreneurs. It might not be as interesting to someone who is not American.

    3. Spoken like a true non-American, expecting to be “taught” how to be entrepreneurial

    4. I don’t agree. Judging from the details Roosh outlined of Rockefeller’s life, I see similarities between him and Bill Gates. Both had the same management style, dressed poorly, weren’t ballers with their money and gave most of it away later in life.
      Yes Gates has that mansion. But that’s more an extension of his fascination with technology.

  9. Excellent book review. Love where your mind is at right now roosh with all the other posts as well. Gives me something to strive for in a big picture kind of way. Keep it coming!

  10. That book is basically a well written PR job and nothing more.
    The Rockefellers were wealthy when coming to the US. The tactics of John D. Rockefeller were similar to Mafia tactics – even hardcore in current business times – shooting down competitors or people who did not want to sell to you is Dark Triad to the core. The family was by far more connected and by far more wealthy than it seemed even when Rockefeller started.
    While one could admire his self-discipline, his brilliance and mastery of all business-levels, the next article on ROK could just as well extoll the oratory skills of Adolf Hitler. Besides – some of the Rothschilds were by far better businessmen in the last 200 years. They even managed to almost disappear from the Forbes list just as well as the Rockefellers who btw retained control of all companies after the Standard Oil split. Only because the shares are owned by foundations you created – foundations you still control – does not mean that your wealth is gone. Bill Gates is going the same way with his fake charities – transfering his wealth to charities his family will control forever. Only difference is that Gates has less than 5% of what the Rockefellers likely have.

    1. Couldn’t have said it better. The charity is just one big conjob, to even suggest that the elites actually cares about the masses is laughable. If anything, these lunatics are the worst enemy that we could have.

      1. Some certainly care, but in the current system and with an agenda that is all about control most of humanity is getting shafted all the time.
        We could all have high dream-like living standards with interest free money, usury free real estate credit, (practically) free energy generators (many many technologies available), non-profit real science medical care etc. but all those things would be a danger to the rule of the plutocracy. It would give upcoming entrepreneurs the ability to outperform them. It would make the common man a property owner and a man independent of most of their control matrix (oil, debts etc.). Thus it must never happen.

    2. The Rockefellers have been the Rothschilds’ handmaidens for over 200 years. Agreed, Gates is a fraud and one evil son of a bitch. He and pal Zuckerberg are buying off congressman to push through doubling the number of H1B visas made available annually so even more American citizens will be displaced. I recently spoke with a recruiter in IT here in Houston. She told me the only place H1B holders, mostly Indian, because that is what employers want. They can pay these aliens a pittance and more importantly they have complete control over them, if a visa holder tried to negotiate for higher wages he is fired and his dismissal is reported to ICE…back to Mumbai.

      1. Very funny. Hitler loved dogs, so loving dogs is a fascist activity.
        Frankly I believe that the financial elite of today is so far above the actions, that owning the system and gently steering is enough. The dirty work is done by the excellent people you employ. John D Rockefeller like Mayer Amschel Rothschild built their houses to the empires they are today – and they were the ones that were getting hands on in Dark Triad activities. It takes only one highly industrious predecessor to set up your family for generations of wealth and power.
        I recommend the congressional Reece commission on foundations 1953/54 – full documentation available under & – there you can gently peruse the real extent of the power of foundations.

    3. ” the next article on ROK could just as well extoll the oratory skills of Adolf Hitler.”
      Well, whats wrong with respecting the fuhrers speaking skills? 😀

    4. Adolf Hitler’s skills were excellent.
      That said, what the above biography of Rockefeller shows is that government creates monopolies, not free markets. It was the “anti-trust” laws that made Rockefeller truly rich.
      Funny how Roosh missed out on that point and instead claimed how the deregulation of anti-trust laws today are bad, when in fact they created the Rockefeller cartel.

      1. Free markets are myths, since capitalism always concentrates power and ultimately it is controlled by banking and the unnecessary usury scam. Nowadays it just needs to stay hidden.
        And plutocracy has been in control of countries since centuries. You cannot remain independent as a government, if you have to borrow money in order to stay in power. You can however if you print the money within orderly fashion and put down your citizens and your country’s productivity down as collateral. We are collateral anyway, just with compound interest and debts instead of interest free debt-free single expenditure.
        During the 1953 congressional Reece commission a lawyer, who was allowed access into the Ford foundation archives, found letters going back and forth between the US president and other foundations writing out orders to the president. Among these were such gems as the request to the president during WWI to not let the war end too quickly after 2 years. She (high level female lawyer) found even more drastic things and was unable to return to Wallstreet afterwards. That was certainly a strong Red Pill moment when you realize that many of the things told to you at school and by the media are enormous lies.
        When taking that into consideration – being in control of “deregulations” and “anti-trust-laws” is not much of a challenge to them.

        1. “Free markets are myths, since capitalism always concentrates power and ultimately it is controlled by banking and the unnecessary usury scam. ”
          Clarification. It’s not that free markets are a myth, but that they need serious protection in order to function correctly. The government will step in and make itself rich whenever it can, and government usually acts on behalf of its richest members.
          Thus the best way to prevent true monopolies is to make entry for newer members as cheap as possible, and to prevent governments from “regulating” things because it always makes things worse.

    5. A lot of the charities the Rockefeller Foundation supports promote both radical feminism and rabid environmentalism. Both utilize the SJWs for agitation purposes.

  11. Fun fact: modern schooling and feminism were both funded by his descendants, as part of a social engineering strategy still in effect today.

    1. Oh really? Maybe you could write an article to show us about the link between feminism and his descendants, or show us how his descendants sourced feminism.

  12. “One day, he dropped his arms, letting his astonished son crash to the
    floor. “Remember,” Bill lectured him, “never trust anyone completely,
    not even me.”
    “never trust anyone completely,
    not even me and especially never, ever, EVER trust anyone with a hole between their legs”
    There. Fixed it for him.

  13. “At the same time, his associates bribed public officials to eliminate competition and prevent anti-trust legislation. Perhaps to atone for these sins, he gave away most of his wealth by the time he died. I see him as a brilliant but morally gray man.”
    – Perfectly said. I think this is what led to his reclusiveness towards the end of his days, as well as contributed to his passive-aggressive psychopathy. It’s a well known fact that most of the wealthy and rich men have all been (and are) psychopaths, who don’t trust mankind. Trust is for lesser mortals. When you are surrounded by untrustworthy people who’d sell their consciences, it is natural for a man involved in business to become skeptical about human nature, which eventually leads to psychopathy.

    1. there’s been a lot of focus in recent years (possibly in relation to feminism, and things like ’emotional intelligence’ on both psychopathy and ‘trust’ as an advantageous, one might say essential form of social capital. I have no idea whether rockefeller was a psychopath (he actually doesn’t sound passive agressive from the article but I’ll take your word for it) although I’m sure some of his fellow oligarchs, past and present, have been. Nonetheless if the ‘trust as a form of social capital” advocates are correct then trust is important in any kind of capitalist or successful economic transaction. For instance the credit society depends upon the debtor ‘trusting’ that he will be paid back (i.e. a credit check establishes how ‘trustworthy’ a person is). If trust is important to a successful (capitalist) economy and psychopaths are part the top tier of that economy (in part or whole) then there is the suggestion that trust in this sense is unidirectional i.e. bottom up rather than top down. In such a scenario the trust in question must then be generated artificially by PR / market relations etc. Although this is true even if some of these oligarch’s aren’t psychos

  14. I don’t see him as evil but neither do I see him as some saint. He was a businessman first and foremost. And like all businessmen, he would do what is necessary to win. There are actually some contemporary businessmen and executives far far worse than Rockefeller not just in America but in the rest of the world as well.

  15. So this is off topic but whatever happened to our superstar commenters Lane Christopher and Tom? Those guys were hilarious. I used to always look forward to reading their comments. Do they have their own blogs now? Did a feminist assassinate them?

  16. I had a hard time reading past the point this book was referred to as an autobiography.

  17. First congrats on finishing that book and writing such a great recap. Some may have missed it but what gave John D. such an advantage was his ability to hold frame. Your recap details it well.
    Unfortunately his success and the government pressure on monopolies gave way to the ultimate ace in the hole- the creation of the federal reserve.
    While it has served the United States well making it the most powerful country ever- it will devour its host because it profits from destruction.

  18. there seems to be an increasing focus recently on the putative 1% which holds most of the worlds wealth and arguably pulls all the puppet strings. A socialist leaning French economic historian Piketty seems to be making a lot of waves arguing that income inequality in favour of the oligarchy requires state (and global) tax intervention etc, as capital returns are stifling growth (or something) while two princeton academics have recently demonstrated that the elites have disproportionate influence in shaping politics / legistlation etc – – something that might not surprise but has been difficult to prove. All of which poses certain dilemmas for those inclined towards liberal capitalism & the free market but who might be worried about how oligarchs (of whatever nature) may be skewing the world in their favour, particularly insofar as this rise in their power and wealth seems to have gone hand in hand with the promotion of feminism, immigration and progressivism as things which foster cheaper labour and larger markets (as well as greater tax for states).
    The modern Rockefeller foundation seems to be a case in point. Many here will know the rumours about Gloria Steinem and the CIA, which has led to the allegation that feminism has been bank-rolled by the Rockefeller’s and the big corporations. There seems to be at least some truth to that (although that’s not necessarily the same as saying the Rockefellers etc are part of a conspiracy to destroy the family etc) and if you look at the Rockefeller foundation website its clear that it is either seeking to appear or actually is a socially progressive / feminist organisation.
    I seem to recall also that Rockefeller was himself quite influenced by progressive feminist causes, mainly I think on account of his wife’s influence.
    These powerful men are a strange lot. Inspirational and conspiratorial at the same time

    1. Which is why you take what you can from them and leave the rest, if the average person treated business the way right wingers treat guns, there would be no oligarchs

      1. its more a case of they take what they can from everyone else isn’t it. The people at the top were never about free and open competition. They destroy the competition, and then do what they can to keep it down to maintain their position. Still it doesn’t hurt to learn from those who can, and have. Modelling success and strength is not about ethics

  19. I just gotta say, RoK has had some solid material lately. Lots of food for thought.
    The depressing redpill articles are necessary in their own way… Harsh reality is better than an ignorant bliss… and I think they help to encourage newbs to realize that they aren’t cra
    But I think it is articles like this that make this a truly great forum.

  20. Robber Barons at least created jobs albeit they had hugely exploitative and illegal practices and can be considered morally ambiguous, the modern financial sector is all about the acquisition of wealth at all costs, and making money on speculation!

  21. Great review. I read this book when I was just out of college and loved it. Not to learn about business but just because I love biographies and histories. I still remember a lot about JDR’s character and bio. I have no doubt that Mr. Burns was modeled in part on that guy. If you fellas like biographies like this, check out The Chief – about William Randolph Hearst. For those of you attacking the subject, it’s just a book review, I don’t see Roosh canonizing the guy. Lighten up – you can still learn things from the lives of the past.

  22. Huey Long was a real alpha. Standard Oil, despite the Anti-Trust Act (why not take it off the books, it is no longer enforced, a joke) was back to it’s old ways, was raping Louisiana. The Kingfish, through sheer force of personality, brought Standard Oil to it’s knees which greatly improved the standard of living for the average Louisianan. Huey was on his way to sitting in the Oval Office (Frankie Roosenfeld was terrified of Long, referred to him as the “American Hitler) until he was assassinated by the son-in-law of the chairman for Roosevelt’s Louisiana campaign organization.

    1. Are you fucking kidding me? Long was a card-carrying populist, an egalitarian, and a firm believer in ‘Robin hood’ social entitlements. Long and others like him are the philosophical inspiration for today’s ‘screw the middle class’ policies and welfare daddygov. He is the ideological originator for today’s ‘gimme free shit’ feminism, and while for a few short years he increased lousiana’s personal living standards, that artifical spike soon followed the typical communitarian pattern and plunged Louisiana back into one of the most backward and lowest living standards states in the country by the late 40’s.
      FDR referred to him as the ‘American Hitler’ because, like ol’ Adolph, he was using tried and true socialist manipulation to seize power for himself as a fascist leader of a nominally communistic regime.
      The only thing wrong with his assassination was that it should have happened about four years earlier. It’s a sad fact in this country that most of the ‘justified’ killings occurred about four years later than they should have, after the individual in question damaged the place beyond repair… Lincoln, Long, and Lennon not alone among those that would have improved the country by buying it sooner.

      1. You are incorrect. Long was in the process of overthrowing a social order that was based on inherited position. There was little opportunity for socio-economic mobility. I don’t know where you are from but I grew up in the rural South and had family on both ends of the economic spectrum. It mattered not if you possessed a MENSA I.Q. if you were too poor to pay for textbooks too bad, you were condemned to working the fields as sharecropper just as your father had. That is not a pleasant life. I know. My maternal grandfather was a sharecropper. Long greatly improved public education including financing a building program that took LSU from 88th in enrollment to 20th in the nation and had plans to set up a system in which the brightest students would have their educations subsidized by the state (this is certainly much better than conning kids into believing that a college education is necessary for everyone and then forcing them into massive debt). Again, MERIT. Long literally built Louisiana’s infrastructure from the ground up, when he took office state had 30 miles of paved roads, he increased this to over 3300 miles. Transportation infrastructure is obviously necessary for economic development. He financed the repair of existing and building of new levees that saved lives and prevented economic loss. He greatly improved, essentially rebuilt the port which, during his governorship tripled the tonnage in exports. Those that opposed him were the entrench elite who inherited their position. The rightly feared the reforms he was introducing would lead to their displacement by those of merit.
        Socialist? He pointed out (as did Roosevelt in his defense of the new deal) that his program was a defense of and would save capitalism. Unlike the patrician Roosevelt and his dyke wife/cousin, he was an avowed opponent of communism. Surely you are aware that Roosevelt was a “beta orbiter” of Stalin’s and his administration was rife with communist agents and spies. Long also opposed the Federal Reserve because the fed manipulated the money supply for the benefit of the few (hmm, sounds like Ron Paul) and publicly said if he were president the force thing he would do is abolish it. Again, I amazed that you defend the real commie and Stalin fanboy Roosevelt while attacking Long as a communist/socialist.

        1. Defend FDR? He only looked good in comparison to traitors like Woodrow Wilson. I was simply pointing out that Long believed that ‘Big Government’ and ‘Big Welfare’ was the key to defeating entrenched Elite. This is, by definition, Marxism laid bare. He either didn’t know (in which case he was too fucking stupid to be in power) Or he didn’t care (in which case he was just another elite mouthpiece destroying america) That ‘big government’ is as thoroughly owned by the elite as socilist programs.

  23. The Rockefeller’s have never let women manage money.They only get an allowance. That’s how you hold onto money for more than 3 generations.

  24. The Rockefeller foundation was paramount in their support of Gloria Steinem, and with her the start of modern feminism. A gang I doubt too many on this list find very attractive.
    Old man Rockefeller may have been smart acquiring business, but the way these guys use their power leaves you with a feeling of disgust, and not much more.

    1. This, the same predatory nature that led to his business excellence is the one that push him and the rest of the robber barons to use their wealth to influence society the way they did. Shouldn’t stop anyone from taking what they can from their stories though

      1. you can’t help feeling that a bunch of trolls invaded his foundation and used it’s resources for their own BS. i don’t think you can blame the man or his business practices for some kind of marxist takeover….

  25. Contrast and compare his competency at age 17 with modern day 17 year olds. We’re basically still children at that age today. So much potential squandered with the way kids are raised with an extended childhood. That’s why so many boys are claimed to have ADHD. There’s so much energy and life in these kids and they do nothing but suppress it.

  26. from David Rockefeller’s Memoirs
    “Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure — one world, if you will. If that is the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”
    mmm, the question I suppose is what sort of “more integrated global political and economic structure. He err…seems to mean well.

  27. Interesting read. Whether he’s seen as a “moral” man or not, there’s something to learn from him if you want to be successful.

    1. He’s the most successful businessman in the world. Why stop with America?

  28. He’s basically our Palpatine. We can admire his efficiency and genius, and revile his ruthlessness and domineering attitude that helped form the modern corporate degeneracy.

  29. Haha sweet irony, it was exactly John D. Rockefeller the person behind women’s emancipation and consequently the full blown feminism. Do your home work.

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