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From our Library: Memoirs, by David Rockefeller

The Inn on Mount Desert is proud to stock a library of a great many books, which predominantly but not exclusively are in some way inspired by the local area. We feel that some light—or not so light, if that’s your preference—reading is a fantastic way to enhance the degree of relaxation during your time in beautiful Bar Harbor, Maine (even if it so happens you aren’t here on vacation!). And, of course, we are more than happy to help you find a book that suits your fancy!


One selection from our library comes to mind as a book that is sure to have something to offer just about everyone. David Rockefeller’s Memoirs are 500-some pages on just about every topic under the sun, including but certainly not limited to Finance, Fine Art, Economics, Sailing, Foreign Relations, Politics, Philanthropy, and History. And of course Bar Harbor is the ideal place to take it all in, as the Rockefellers have such close ties to the area (land donated by the Rockefellers is largely what comprises Acadia National Park itself, and David throughout his life spent a great deal of time on Mount Desert Island and maintained an estate called Ringing Point in Seal Harbor).

Mr. Rockefeller’s 101 years of life were largely devoted to developing relationships with his fellow man. He assigned immense value to these relationships and built them over time, which helped him stay abreast of just about everything that went on in the world around him. He was involved in innumerable businesses, committees, and quasi-public initiatives, and the number of hats he wore is impressive. While one’s instinct may be to assume David was simply handed everything on a silver platter and given free rein on account of his last name, this is certainly not the case—Mr. Rockefeller earned a PHD in economics and his commentary on the economic issues of his day makes it quite clear the degree was well earned. In fact, throughout the book he proves himself to be something of a renaissance man with a broad base of knowledge and a sharp intellect that never seemed to fade (Memoirs was written when he was in his eighties). Furthermore, he always felt strongly that the world economy would steadily over time become more and more global in scope, and time has proven his premise to have been very much correct (which is of note as this was a belief that, while certainly not radical, was not uniform amongst all his contemporaries). Yet at the same time Mr. Rockefeller does not hide from his last name or the unique opportunities it afforded him, and so his overall perspective generally comes across as very much down to earth.


While the book is probably too long to take in in its entirety during the average trip to Bar Harbor, it’s not to worry—many individual chapters are concentrated sufficiently enough that they can stand independently of the rest of the book. Specifically I would suggest chapter 3, Childhood, which details David’s youth and his summers spent on Mount Desert Island. His juxtaposition of Bar Harbor and Seal Harbor in the early 1900s is charming and somewhat ironic, as Seal Harbor is now more well-known for its mega-wealthy residents.

I also suggest chapters 17 through 20, which break down region by region David’s involvement in US foreign relations throughout the latter half of the 20th century. Anyone even remotely interested in politics, geopolitical history, the global economy, or important world affairs of the mid to late 1900s will find chapters 17 through 20 intensely interesting.

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