Cover image for Memoirs
Title:
Memoirs
Author:
Rockefeller, David, 1915-2017.
Edition:
First trade edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House, [2002]

©2002
Physical Description:
517 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Language:
English
Corporate Subject:
ISBN:
9780679405887
Format :
Book

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HG2463.R6 A3 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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HG2463.R6 A3 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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Summary

Summary

David Rockefeller was born in 1915, the youngest child of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., one of the richest men in the United States, and the great patron of modern art Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. He graduated from Harvard College in the depths of the Depression, when the capitalist order, which his grandfather had helped to create, was under relentless attack. He studied at the London School of Economics and the University of Chicago, where he earned a Ph.D." "He worked briefly for New York City's flamboyant mayor Fiorello La Guardia before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1942. His service as an intelligence officer in North Africa and France brought him into contact with many of the individuals who would soon dominate European politics and gave him a unique perspective on the events and personalities that eventuated in the "twilight struggle" of the Cold War." Rockefeller joined the Chase bank in 1946 as an assistant manager in the Foreign Department and rose through the ranks to become chairman of the board and chief executive officer. During that time, he struggled constantly to modernize and internationalize the bank's operations, often against a conservative and risk-averse corporate culture.


Author Notes

David Rockefeller was born in Manhattan, New York on June 12, 1915. He receiving a bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1936 and a Ph. D in economics from the University of Chicago in 1940. He was a secretary to New York's mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia. He enlisted in the Army in 1942, attended officer training school, and served in North Africa and France in World War II. He was discharged a captain in 1945.

He began his banking career in 1946 as an assistant manager with the Chase National Bank, which merged with the Bank of Manhattan Company to become Chase Manhattan. He became president of Chase Manhattan and its co-chief executive in 1961. In 1969, he became the chairman and sole chief executive of the bank. He retired from active management in 1981, but continued to serve Chase as chairman of its international advisory council and to act as the bank's foreign diplomat. He was also a philanthropist. He wrote an autobiography, Memoirs, in 2002. He died on March 20, 2017 at the age of 101.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The author is the youngest of oil monopolist John D. Rockefeller's six grandchildren, and it is the theme of sibling relationships that will most absorb readers of his memoir. David's politician brother Nelson, of course, dominated the clan's public profile, but in private the Rockefeller brothers could be less deferential to him. The studious one who earned a doctorate in economics, David Rockefeller describes how his brothers' very different paths in life would converge several times a year when they gathered to discuss the foundation of their fame: all that money. Interestingly, it was not easily accessed: the brothers had numerous conflicts over the illiquidity of Rockefeller Center and their trusts. There was enough cash for philanthropy, however, the subject clearly closest to the author's heart, as he recounts his involvement with institutions like the Museum of Modern Art. Touching on his military service in WW II, his career in banking, and his encounters with foreign leaders, Rockefeller has reflected frankly and with feeling about his eventful life. --Gilbert Taylor


Publisher's Weekly Review

As a military intelligence officer in World War II, Rockefeller learned his effectiveness depended on his "ability to develop a network of people with reliable information and influence." During his long life-he turned 87 this year-he's amassed a Rolodex of more than 1,000 contacts, and in this satisfying autobiography, he describes firsthand encounters with Pablo Picasso, Sigmund Freud, Fiorello La Guardia, oil sheikhs, Latin American strongmen and others. Critics might say Rockefeller's not too choosy about the company he keeps; they claim he's "never met a dictator he didn't like." Indeed, he has been roundly criticized for the role he and Henry Kissinger played in persuading the Carter administration to allow the exiled shah of Iran into the U.S., an event widely believed to have sparked the hostage crisis. But this memoir is much more than a titillating account of wealth and international intrigue. Rockefeller also meticulously recounts the modernizing of Chase Bank, where he worked for 35 years, rising to become chairman and chief executive, finally giving the company-which merged with JP Morgan in 2001-a written history on a par with Ron Chernow's The House of Morgan. New York City also dominates here; after Robert Moses, the Rockefeller clan has had the strongest hand in shaping the modern urban landscape, from Wall Street to midtown to Morningside Heights. Indispensable for anyone interested in financial and American history, Rockefeller's well-organized remembrances present a deeply fascinating, thorough look into the life of a living legend. Photos not seen by PW. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (Oct.) Forecast: Like Katharine Graham's 1997 Personal History, this will appeal both to readers with a financial sensibility and those in search of a stimulating, meaningful American autobiography. An author tour and national TV appearances will kick off sales, and the book should do well as a gift come the holidays. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

This autobiography by the youngest son of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller is also a history of 20th-century America and its influence in the world order. As David Rockefeller traces his own life (he was born in 1915) with references to the personal and business dealings of his father and grandfather, this history unfolds through his eyes. Chapters on his childhood, teenage years, and relationships with his parents provide insight into his character development and lifestyle. But when he discusses his years at Harvard, the London School of Economics, and the University of Chicago, where he earned his Ph.D. in economics, Rockefeller tells of his meetings with top professors and economists such as Keynes and Schumpeter, commenting on their theories. The account of his travel experience in Nazi Germany during the mid-1930s is compelling. His marriage to Peggy, his time as an intelligence officer in World War II, and his relationships with his brothers in family conflicts, as well as his work with Chase Bank, Rockefeller Center, OPEC, and the Middle East, Latin America, and the World Trade Center, are all discussed in detail. Of particular interest is Rockefeller's epilog discussing 9/11. This very readable and thought-provoking account of an influential financier, philanthropist, and art lover will hold readers' interest. Given the broad sweep of Rockefeller's life, it may be quite popular and in demand in both public and academic libraries. Steven J. Mayover, formerly with the Free Lib. of Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

CHAPTER 1 Grandfather 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. Excerpted from Memoirs by David Rockefeller All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Grandfather 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.
From the Hardcover edition.