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Tycoon's War

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Tycoon's War
How Cornelius Vanderbilt Invaded a Country to Overthrow America's Most Famous Military Adventurer
By Stephen Dando-Collins
Da Capo Press, 2008, 373 pages
ISBN 978-0-306-81607-9

Reviewed by Israel Drazin - May 3, 2010

In 1849, fifty-five year old shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt was one of the richest men in America. When he died in 1877, Vanderbilt had more money than the US Treasury and was the richest man in the country. Americans remember Vanderbilt's name today, but very few Americans remember the adventurer William Walker, his rival, who was the most famous man in America during his day.

This was the age of expansion. The US had just won the war with Mexico the previous year during which the country took half a million Mexican acres. Now Nicaragua interested several countries. The French wanted to build a canal across it from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. The British landed military forces in Nicaragua to take control of the area and introduce their influence into Central America. This was also the time of the California gold rush when many people lost their lives when they traveled across the US by land.

Vanderbilt proposed to the US government that the government get him the right from Nicaragua to build a canal across their country so that Americans and others could go from the east to the west safely. However, Vanderbilt was opposed by the very talented young American idealist, William Walker, who was determined to conquer and rule over a Central American Empire. Walker would become the president of Nicaragua for awhile, but ultimately failed to accomplish his goal. The two powerful men, both opportunists, clashed in battles that resulted in the death of thousands of Americans.

This book is a well-written history, with much interesting information, and it reads like a drama.

Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.

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