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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Tycoon's War: How Cornelius Vanderbilt Invaded a Country to Overthrow America's Most Famous Military Adventurer [Hardcover] » User review

An interesting true story of unusual people and a war we know nothing about

  • Jul 16, 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.

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Israel Drazin ()
Ranked #66
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of twenty books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four … more
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Dando-Collins (Caesar's Legion) recounts the conflict between tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt and adventurer William Walker over the control of Nicaragua from 1855 to 1857. Walker, with mercenary support, entered Nicaragua's civil war in 1855 on the side of the Democratico forces against the Legitimistas. Historians have seen the Tennessee native as wishing to reintroduce slavery to Nicaragua and encourage settlement by American Southerners. Dando-Collins claims that Walker initially acted out of personal ambition, seeking to emulate Sam Houston of Texas. Only after he was elected president of Nicaragua in 1856 did he turn to slaving-holding interests to support colonization and to bring in African labor. Dando-Collins's basis for his defense of Walker? That he came from a family hostile to slavery and there is no record that he supported the practice of slavery himself. Even if the paper trail is not there, Walker's willingness to reintroduce and thus expand slavery demonstrates tolerance for the institution and/or unscrupulous desire for power. His actions put him into conflict with Vanderbilt, who controlled a major portion of shipping routes that used Nicaragua as overland transit between the Atlantic and Pacific. After the Democratico government seized his company's assets, Vanderbilt, with the tacit encouragement of the U.S. government, supplied Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador with money for arms to depose Walker in 1857. While Dando-Collins ...
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ISBN-10: 0306816075
ISBN-13: 978-0306816079
Author: Stephen Dando-Collins
Genre: History
Publisher: Da Capo Press
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