Anderson Cooper accused of reusing old material in new book on Astors

Anderson Cooper is slammed by best-selling author Meryl Gordon for recycling her own work for his new book on the Astors: ‘It was kind of stunning’

  • Meryl Gordon in 2009 wrote a book about Brooke Astor, the doyenne of the Astor family whose son was jailed in 2013 for manipulating her to change her will
  • Gordon’s book covered the 2008 court case – held the year after Brooke Astor died, aged 105 – which captivated New York City
  • Anderson Cooper has his own book about the Astor family coming out on September 19, but Gordon said she was ‘disappointed’ he relied on her work 

The author of a New York Times best-selling book on the Astor family has said she is ‘disappointed’ in CNN anchor Anderson Cooper for failing to dig up new facts for his own book on the family, and for relying so heavily on her work.

Meryl Gordon, whose ‘meticulous’ 2009 book Mrs Astor Regrets featured dozens of interviews with Astor relatives, employees and associates, was asked what she thought about Cooper’s new book.

The CNN star, who has also written a book about his own family, the Vanderbilts, will publish Astor: The Rise and Fall of an American Fortune on September 19.

Gordon told ‘I was disappointed that he added so little to the story.’

She told Doug Brunt’s podcast, to be aired on Tuesday, she was shocked and saddened by Cooper’s book.

‘I have read the book and I have very complicated feelings about it,’ she told Brunt.

Anderson Cooper in July posted a video to Instagram showing off the new book's cover. It will be released on September 19

Annette de la Renta (left) is pictured with Brooke Astor (center) and Annette's husband, fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, at a New York gala in 1990

Cooper is seen in February 2017 with Annette de la Renta (far right) and Italian opera singer Vittorio Griggolo

Gordon said she was surprised Cooper only did one interview with Annette de la Renta, the now 83-year-old widow of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, who served as Brooke Astor’s court-appointed guardian for a year until her death in August 2007, age 105.

‘Anderson Cooper is a terrific reporter,’ said Gordon.

‘I’ve always really admired him so I was curious to see what he could do with this topic – and he only did one original interview with Annette de la Renta, but that’s one interview.

She added she was first flattered when she read the book, but realized the 31-chapter book referenced her work 39 times. 

‘I’m disappointed, he’s really good at what he does and I was curious to see what he would come up with for this topic – and he seems to come up with my book.

‘Again, it’s flattering, but it’s a little annoying too. It’s just I would’ve expected more from him.’

Cooper has not responded to’s request for comment.

Meryl Gordon shows off a copy of her latest book, charting the life of Bunny Mellon

Gordon's book

Cooper's book

In an Instagram video, published on July 11, Cooper showed off the ‘galley copy’ – a pre-publication version to proofread or send to reviewers – and said he was thrilled with it.

‘It’s full of fascinating stories about this larger-than-life American family and what happened to them – they were the richest family in America for a very, very long time and owned much of the land of New York,’ he said.

His publisher, Harper Collins, has announced a series of book signings and talks to promote the book, starting on September 20.

Cooper is described by the publishers as having ‘a passing acquaintance with Brooke Astor, the last doyenne of the family’ – likely through his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, who died in 2019 aged 95.

Cooper (front) is seen with his older brother Carter and his mother Gloria Vanderbilt in April 1979

Cooper’s book charts the family’s beginnings in New York City, with the 1783 arrival of German immigrant John Jacob Astor, and tells how they made their fortune – first with a beaver trapping business, and then Manhattan real estate.

The Astors dominated Gilded Age society in New York and beyond.

When the Titanic sunk in 1912, the richest passenger on board was John Jacob Astor IV.

His son, William Vincent Astor, was the third husband of Brooke Astor, who died in 2007.

Cooper’s book concludes with the extremely messy 2008 court case – which Gordon covered for Vanity Fair – where Brooke Astor’s son Anthony Marshall was accused of manipulating her to change her will.

He was found guilty, and sentenced to one to three years in prison – but, on presenting himself aged 89, only served eight weeks before he was sent home on medical grounds.


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