The Eccentric Billionaire: John D. MacArthur--Empire Builder, Reluctant Philanthropist, Relentless Adversary

Front Cover
AMACOM, Jan 9, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 240 pages
He was hated, feared, and admired. The country’s second-richest man at the time of his death, John D. MacArthur (1897-1978) also became one of its great benefactors. Every year, some two dozen American writers, artists, intellectuals, and scientists receive as much as a half million dollars in grants known as the “genius awards” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. But MacArthur was not the benevolent figure you might expect. Stingier than J. Paul Getty, as money-obsessed as Howard Hughes, and as ruthless as Cornelius Vanderbilt, MacArthur was one of the most multi-layered men in business history. Now, in this first full biography of John D. MacArthur as he really was, Nancy Kriplen reveals the man behind the myth—the often vulgar, sometimes unethical, always ambitious rogue who would become one of America’s wealthiest men. The Eccentric Billionaire chronicles how MacArthur amassed his fortune, rising from a poverty-saturated childhood as the son of a fire-and-brimstone preacher to become an insurance and real estate mogul. As sole owner of Bankers Life and Casualty, he also built a real estate empire that spanned the continent. Based on interviews with members of the MacArthur family as well as previously undiscovered letters and papers, this book reveals MacArthur’s tumultuous private life, including his quickie divorce from his first wife and his Mexican marriage to Catherine, his brother’s cute, clever teenage secretary who would help him on his climb to riches. The author also explores MacArthur’s relationships with his family and friends, including his brother, the playwright Charles MacArthur, and sister-in-law, the great actress Helen Hayes. Extensively researched and beautifully written, The Eccentric Billionaire is a revealing look at a man whose influence has extended in ways he never dreamed.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

The eccentric billionaire: John D. MacArthur-- empire builder, reluctant philanthropist, relentless adversary

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

John D. MacArthur (1897-1978) is certainly ripe for biographers, but even with access to primary sources and family papers, Kriplen (Dwight Davis: The Man and the Cup) is hard-pressed to flesh out the ... Read full review

Contents

PROLOGUE
1
CHAPTER 1 Ransoming the Ruby
3
CHAPTER 2 Breaking the Sod
11
CHAPTER 3 Baby John
17
CHAPTER 4 Life with Father
23
CHAPTER 5 The Competitor
33
CHAPTER 6 Every Little Breeze
43
CHAPTER 7 Catherine T
49
CHAPTER 14 Hogs Get Slaughtered
109
CHAPTER 15 The Colonnades
117
CHAPTER 16 Founding a Foundation
127
CHAPTER 17 Palm Beach Prometheus
135
CHAPTER 18 Lost and Sometimes Found
141
CHAPTER 19 Royal Summons
151
CHAPTER 20 And with Dignity
161
CHAPTER 21 Genius
169

CHAPTER 8 Staying Afloat
57
CHAPTER 9 The Mother Lode
63
CHAPTER 10 Divorce and Death
73
CHAPTER 11 Hat Trick
85
CHAPTER 12 Down Among the Sheltering Palms
95
CHAPTER 13 Banyan Trees and Hibiscus Hedges
103
LOCATION OF COLLECTIONS CITED
179
NOTES
181
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
213
INDEX
217
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Nancy Kriplen is a former business researcher for Time, and has also written for The New York Times, The Indianapolis Times, and Smithsonian. She is the author of the acclaimed biography Dwight Davis: The Man and the Cup.

Bibliographic information