The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan

The Last Castle

A New York Times bestseller with an "engaging narrative and array of detail” (The Wall Street Journal), the “intimate and sweeping” (Raleigh News & Observer) untold, true story behind the Biltmore Estate—the largest, grandest private residence in North America, which has seen more than 120 years of history pass by its front door.The story of Biltmore spans World Wars, the Jazz Age, the Depression, and generations of the famous Vanderbilt ...


Details The Last Castle

TitleThe Last Castle
ISBN9781476794051
Author
Release DateMay 1st, 2018
PublisherTouchstone
GenreNonfiction, History, Biography, Historical, North American Hi..., American History
Rating

Reviews The Last Castle

  • Erin
    2017-10-30
    3.5 StarsThe Last Castle is a book for serious history nerds like myself.I haven't read Denise Kiernan's other book The Girls of Atomic City, but after reading The Last Castle I'll be pushing it up my TBR list. This book is a meticulously researched look at the building of the largest house of The Gilded Age, The Biltmore.The Last Castle is a deep dive not only into the history of The Biltmore but also the legendary family behind it, The Vanderbi...
  • Cindy Burnett
    2017-09-23
    The Last Castle is a phenomenal read. When I went to school in North Carolina years ago, I visited Biltmore House several times so as soon I learned about this book, I was dying to read it. I am so glad it lived up to my expectations. Denise Kiernan chronicles the tale of George Vanderbilt, the man who ultimately built the largest residence ever constructed in the United States – 175,000 square feet on 125,000 acres of rugged wilderness. Biltmo...
  • Martha Mason
    2017-10-28
    DisappointingIf one judges a book solely on the basis of the epic amount of research that went into its writing this book might be judged a success. The amount of detail presented is prodigious.But taken as a whole the book, to me at least, is flat, repetitive and boring. George Vanderbilt is an unknown quantity. His reasons for building a monstrously large and unwieldy house, far beyond his needs, are never explained. The French chateaux upon wh...
  • Lorna
    2017-10-11
    The Last Castle is an epic story about Biltmore House envisioned and built by George Cornelius Vanderbilt, the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, during the Gilded Age with the history of Biltmore Estate then spanning the Jazz Age, the Depression and two World Wars. Vanderbilt knew when he first got off the train in Ashville, North Carolina and gazed at the Pisgah peaks nestled among the Blue Ridge Mountains and Smokey Mountains of southern Appala...
  • Margaret Sankey
    2017-06-10
    Emblematic of the Vanderbilt family's cycle "from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations" (well, maybe "shirtsleeves to Anderson Cooper in three generations"), the estate at Biltmore was meant to be a semi-feudal estate, with European-style managed forests, dairies and local crafts. Instead, although it made an indelible impact on Asheville and the region, it quickly became a white elephant of expenses, impractical living and changed s...
  • Touchstone Books
    2016-11-16
    Denise Kiernan is back and she's better than ever. Can't wait to share this one with you this Fall!
  • Staceyann
    2017-10-28
    The author did not appear to have enough material about the Vanderbilt family to write a book, so latched on to everything that happened in North Carolina around this time period. I wouldn’t complain if this had been billed as a history of North Carolina, but a lot of the side stories had no connection to Biltmore or the Vanderbilts other than “it happened nearby.” The first half of the book was pretty good, but the second half (after Georg...
  • Cyndi
    2017-11-04
    I'm not exactly sure how a book can be interesting and boring all at the same time, but this one achieved that strange balance.
  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    2017-12-27
    "Half the pleasure in life comes from learning to choose between things."-William Osgood Field
  • David Eppenstein
    2017-10-13
    I am giving this book a 3 star rating. To me that means it was a good book, nothing special but worth the price paid. I read some of the reviews of other GR members and it appears that some were rather disappointed in this book for a variety of reasons. I guess I can understand that feeling as I too was initially disappointed. I have visited Biltmore a couple of times but my last visit was nearly 20 years ago and curiosity got the better of me so...
  • Kim McGee
    2017-07-15
    The great Biltmore Estate which many consider an American castle was the vision of George Vanderbilt and continued by his wife, Edith. While the design and grounds changed a bit through the years one thing did not and that was their dream of the area being self sustaining. The village (or later town) that grew up beside it and where Edith created a cottage industry to keep the dream alive.The history of Biltmore is so closely messed with what was...
  • Suzanne Mitchell
    2017-10-20
    What a disappointment!! There is nothing epic about this book and that is the letdown. There is just enough detail to think the book will pick up but it never happens. With the right author this could truly be an epic story but this was a book that was ard to pick up and finish.
  • Greg
    2018-03-20
    Disappointing, mostly because it never explains why George Vanderbilt would build it in the first place. I've been there numerous times (I was brought up within a few hours and this house was often part of vacation trips.) It's massive, but relatively pointless other than it's current function: a museum, and a ridiculously expensive one to visit ($65 to $85 as of November 2016). More flaws: here in the book, there is no single picture of an entir...
  • John
    2017-08-28
    The 175,000 square foot Biltmore was constructed in the waning years of America's Gilded Age by the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, George Vanderbilt, couched within his beloved mountains surrounding Asheville, N.C. Although the focus of this historical work is scheduled to be published at the end of September 2017 is the Biltmore Estate, the book also explores the mistress of the Biltmore Estate, George's wife who he married after its construc...
  • Emesskay
    2017-08-15
    This book is the biography of a building (or estate) - the Biltmore near Asheville North Carolina. It goes into great detail about how it came to be, the problems and how they were overcome, and how this wonderful example of gilded age architecture came to remain intact for future generations to enjoy. Much of the credit is due to the family that resided in the house (estate). It would have been easy to shut themselves away and ignore the locals,...
  • Dalene W.
    2017-10-23
    I loved this book. I was able to visit Biltmore during the Christmas season two years ago. It was amazing to see, especially with all the Christmas decorations. Reading this book took me right back as though I was there again. We took the audio tour and it was nice to read about many of the things we saw. I highly recommend reading this book and going to see Biltmore for yourself. It truly is America's Castle. P.S. there are packages for hotel, t...
  • Linda Smatzny
    2017-08-03
    I received this book via First Reads on Goodreads. This is a fascinating story of the the Biltmore House near Asheville, North Carolina. It starts with a brief history of the Vanderbilt family up to George Vanderbilt. The book continues up to the present time and the grandsons who continue to share in the management of the house. It is full of detail of the various time periods involved in the building of the house. Then when George marries Edith...
  • Lori
    2017-12-31
    In the mid-1890s George Vanderbilt built America's largest residential home in Western North Carolina. He called it Biltmore. He also purchased land--and lots of it. Much of the land he purchased is now the Pisgah National Forest. The book details how Vanderbilt brought a responsible forest management program to that acreage and how it came to be in the hands of the United States Forestry Service. He also built an Episcopal Church and community h...
  • Suellen
    2018-02-20
    DNF
  • Jamie Jones Hullinger
    2018-02-22
    Think I am actually going to give this a 2.5. I was actually pretty disappointed by the end of this one. The bits on the construction of Biltmore and marriage of George and Edith were very interesting but most of the other bits included were confusing to me. For instance at the end there was a section of F. Scott Fitzgerald staying at a local in in Asheville. I am still wondering why that was included. I discovered that I am not a fan of Cornelia...
  • Dara
    2017-12-13
    I’ve always been interested in the Biltmore so I was excited when I saw this book. There were parts where I felt I wanted more information especially at the beginning but overall it was a good read. I enjoyed learning some of the facts behind the building of the estate. The architects, artists, builders, and foresters were all innovative in their own way. I liked how the author brought in mini stories of some other famous contemporaries and int...
  • Nancy
    2017-11-18
    Interesting history of the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC.
  • Charlotte
    2018-02-05
    I want to go back to Asheville. I was there many years ago
  • Chris Mara
    2018-04-21
    The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC has been on my bucket list for the last few years. I’m scheduled to visit this summer and am quite excited about finally getting there! I’ve read a couple of books; pictorial and historical, on the beginnings of Biltmore House and its growing estate all the way through it’s current status as a National Historic Landmark, bestowed upon in 1963. I wanted to gain some information before my visit but did not...
  • Phil Thoden
    2018-05-04
    If you're looking for a truly epic American story, then consider reading "Alexander Hamilton" by Ron Chernow. Meanwhile, this "epic" story about the Biltmore seems borne out of a desire by the publisher and author to extract an epic amount of $$ from the wallets of a Downtown Abbey obsessed public. It reads basically like an extended tourism pamphlet for the Biltmore, and Asheville in general, packing in a lot of historical anecdotes about the Va...
  • Phil
    2017-09-11
    This book turned out to be kind of boring in my opinion even though I generally have a good bit of patience for obscure history. There isn't a huge amount of personal detail about the Vanderbilts, nor is there a huge amount of engineering or construction detail on the Biltmore house itself.If anything the book focused on the impact of the family and the house on the community of Asheville, and also quite a bit on the early life of Edith Vanderbil...
  • Susan
    2018-01-11
    I really wanted to read this book because I know very little about the Biltmore. There were times it was a little slow and/or uninteresting. I enjoyed mostly knowing about the artists who contributed to the creation of the Biltmore and its history. The history about the Vanderbilt family was very interesting and I always enjoy learning more about a historical context. For example the writer O Henry was from Greensboro and spent time at the Biltmo...
  • Jeff Keener
    2018-03-07
    If you like old homes of the “Gilded Age” then this book is so well written and fun you won’t believe it. The Author takes the families, Vanderbilt’s and scores of others and weaves a picture to take the story of this great home into our day. It is a page turner and that’s no joke. Try it you’ll love it!
  • Beth Farley
    2018-03-05
    This left me wanting something, but I'm not sure what. I don't know that I would have enjoyed it as much as I did if I hadn't been there before. I still have lots of questions about WHY George, Edith, & Cornelia did some of the things they did. Instead, a lot of the book was just a rote telling of what they did. I did very much enjoy how the history and goings on at Biltmore intermingled with some of the big events of the 20th century.