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Posted October 14, 2006
Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Morgan
Full Disclosure: The present reviewer is the great-grandson of J. Pierpont Morgan's second cousin. Jean Strouse has done a remarkably detailed job of research. She delves deeply into Morgan's family history, helping the reader understand the contradictions of the great financier's character. He was at once an aristocrat and a public-minded citizen, an optimist given to severe depression, a control freak who took advice surprisingly well, and an Anglophile who loved France. Pierpont Morgan learned merchant banking from his demanding and meticulous father Junius Morgan, who guided his business career well into Pierpont's adulthood. Ms. Strouse highlights the rights-of-passage through which Morgan separated himself from his more conservative parent, thus establishing a domestic merchant banking frontier in the United States that reversed generations of English dominance. The reader senses the conflicts Morgan underwent here. The book's strength is also its weakness. Ms. Strouse is so thorough, and her text so detailed, that a reader unfamiliar with Wall Street's arcane ways gets bogged down. The book is decidedly not for the casual reader. But Ms. Strouse deserves high praise for diligent background work and a well-written piece of scholarship.
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