“Disruption” goes back further than Steve Jobs in Silicon Valley.
To hear author Roland de Wolk tell it, staid Stanford University has a dark and shady past.
“Given the nature of its founder, we should’t be surprised,” he told an audience recently convened at the Book Club of California.
American Disruptor (UC Press)is the untold story of Leland Stanford – from his birth in a backwoods bar to the founding of the world-class university that became and remains the nucleus of regional innovation.
The life of this robber baron, politician, and historic influencer is the astonishing tale of how one supremely ambitious man became this country’s original “disruptor” – reshaping industry and engineering one of the greatest raids on the public treasury for America’s transcontinental railroad, all while living more opulently than maharajas, kings, and emperors.
It is also the saga of how Stanford, once a serial failure, overcame all obstacles to become one of America’s most powerful and wealthiest men, using his high elective office to enrich himself before losing the one thing that mattered most to him – his only child and son. Scandal and intrigue would follow Stanford through his life, and even after his death, when his widow was murdered in a Honolulu hotel – a crime quickly covered up by the almost stillborn university she had saved.
Richly detailed and deeply researched, American Disruptor restores Leland Stanford’s rightful place as a revolutionary force and architect of modern America.