It is hard to come up with a more proficient writer on the subject of yachting and competitive sailing that Oxford’s Roger Vaughan. In his sixty years of chronicling the sport, he has founded TheYacht Magazine, completed two books on the America’s Cup, as well as numerous profiles of such sailing icons as Ted Turner, Walter Cronkite, Harry Anderson and head coach of the Australian Olympic Sailing Team. His resume also includes articles written for s Life; Look; Esquire; Sports Illustrated; The New York Times Nautical Quarterly; National Geographic; Sailing/Cruising World; Sail; Oyster News; Vis-a-Vis, Sailing, and many others.
So there was little surprise when the Spy learned the other day that he had just completed another profile form the world of sailing. But, for the first time in Vaughan’s career, his subject, Arthur Curtiss James, had been long gone and buried for almost eighty years before he began this project.
Not only that but the legendary yachtsman, perhaps the one of the richest men in America during his lifetime, had also been one of the most private and discrete railroad barons of the gilded age. James, whose railroad empire covered more than a quarter of the country, left very little of a paper trail for any biographer to understand this brilliant polymath or how he had accomplished so much.
That was one of the reasons the Spy sought out Roger to talk about why Arthur Curtiss James: Unsung Titan of the Gilded Age, has been his most challenging effort yet in his long, distinguished career. We met at the Bullitt House a few weeks ago to understand more.
This video is approximately four minutes in length. Arthur Curtiss James: Unsung Titan of the Gilded Age is available here