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Posted December 12, 2012
Posted April 26, 2003
OK, But Not Great.
Overall I think the book did a mediocre job of telling us about Alan Greenspan. The strong points of the book were the author¿s description of Greenspan¿s childhood, his early experiences with music, and his relationships with the presidents. Unfortunately, there were more weaknesses than strengths in the rest of the book. First of all, a great deal of time was spent talking about Ayn Rand, Objectivists and Greenspan¿s lifelong role in that movement. However, after all the print given to this topic, I am not clear on what an Objectivist is, why Greenspan was drawn to it, and what attracted people to Ayn Rand. Frankly, she seems like a witch. Also, as is the failing of so many novels like this, the book did not give enough insights into, and development of, Greenspan the economist. I would have found it more interesting if the book focused entirely on that, as that is what distinguishes Alan Greenspan. Also, early in the book the author mentions that Greenspan loved golf and tennis, but did not explain how he came to love those sports. I wish the author helped us to have a better understanding of that. I think if Mr. Martin had narrowed the scope of the book, and brought a little more life to the smaller area he covered, the book would have been better.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 21, 2001
Origins of a Laissez-Faire Central Banker
Before commenting on this book, let me observe that I think that Dr. Greenspan has been the best chairman of the Federal Reserve in history. Most people will agree that it is his tenure in that post while the longest economic expansion in U.S. history continues that draws our interest about him. Of the three recent books about Dr. Greenspan, I found this one by far the most useful. It is a vastly more complete, better researched and developed book than Maestro by Mr. Woodward. Although I felt I knew a lot about Dr. Greenspan after reading two other books about him recently, this one added more useful knowledge for me than the other two combined. The main reason for this was Mr. Martin's access to many people who have known Dr. Greenspan since he was a young man. As a result, you get a rounded sense of the man that is impossible to obtain from contemporary observers who met him recently. Also, almost all of the sources are cited (unlike in Mr. Woodward's book), so you can usually appreciate the context from which the observations come. Music fans and those who are interested in Ayn Rand and her philosphy will be fascinated by the many excellent details of Dr. Greenspan's interests and activities in both areas. If I liked this book so much, why didn't I rate it five stars? Basically, it is because this is a noneconomic biography of a man who was a economist, economic consultant, and central banker through most of his career. To downplay the economic thinking side of his work certainly makes the book more accessible. It also makes it more superficial. I would say this book was written to be interesting to someone who has never taken an economics course. On the other hand, Mr. Martin was refreshingly candid in his descriptions of Dr. Greenspan. For example, he cites Senator Proxmire's skeptical questioning of Dr. Greenspan during confirmation hearings in which the senator pointed out that Dr. Greenspan's firm had the worst track record of major firms for economic forecasting. He also quotes Dr. Greenspan's first wife, artist Joan Mitchell (no relation to me), about her being quizzed by the FBI about Dr. Greenspan's sexual orientation. Other judgments by the author describe economic misses and errors, such as underestimating the oncoming 1990-91 recession. I found these judgments to be objective, accurate, and fair. The book also avoids the false sensationalism of Maestro about the 1987 market crash and the Asian Contagion in 1997, and the Russian default and Long Term Capital Management's collapse in 1998. I enjoyed the final chapter where he looks at the fascination with Dr. Greenspan in the media. This included my favorite story about the CNBC briefcase indicator (interest rates tend to change when his briefcase is full before a Fed meeting). Mr. Martin pointed out that Dr. Greenspan could be transported to the Fed for these meetings in ways that would not allow us to see the thickness of his briefcase. This suggests that this briefcase is a deliberate signaling device. Very interesting. I would have liked the book to contain more quotes from Dr. Greenspan. His ability to handle politically sensitive situations is legendary. Most readers could learn aWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 16, 2000
A Relative Perspective
I found this book to be a very interesting read. In fact, in some respects I found it enlightening. I took particular interest in the fact that only 1st cousins were interviewed for the book. If one spoke to any of the 2nd cousins Mr. Martin would have gottten a very different perspecctive on Alan's family. A 2nd cousin would have been able to say that the majority of the first cousin's input was just to ingratiate them-+selves with the Chairman. What is not known is that the philosophy of life that the family lives by has done nothing but lead to pain, jealousy, death and bitterness.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.