The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance

The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance

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by Ron Chernow
     
 

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Published to critical acclaim twenty years ago, and now considered a classic, The House of Morgan is the most ambitious history ever written about American finance. It is a rich, panoramic story of four generations of Morgans and the powerful, secretive firms they spawned, ones that would transform the modern financial world. Tracing the trajectory of J. P.

Overview

Published to critical acclaim twenty years ago, and now considered a classic, The House of Morgan is the most ambitious history ever written about American finance. It is a rich, panoramic story of four generations of Morgans and the powerful, secretive firms they spawned, ones that would transform the modern financial world. Tracing the trajectory of J. P. Morgan’s empire from its obscure beginnings in Victorian London to the financial crisis of 1987, acclaimed author Ron Chernow paints a fascinating portrait of the family’s private saga and the rarefied world of the American and British elite in which they moved—a world that included Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Franklin Roosevelt, Nancy Astor, and Winston Churchill. A masterpiece of financial history—it was awarded the 1990 National Book Award for Nonfiction and selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 Best Nonfiction Books of the Twentieth Century—The House of Morgan is a compelling account of a remarkable institution and the men who ran it, and an essential book for understanding the money and power behind the major historical events of the last 150 years.

Editorial Reviews

Jeffrey E. Garten
''The House of Morgan'' is much more than a detailed and colorful description of a family and an institution, more than a parting of the curtains on the three secretive Morgan firms....''The House of Morgan'' is no expose, being free of gossip and the kind of backstabbing that usually takes place when writers interview former partners or competitors. But neither is it dry. Mr. Chernow has managed to get close to his characters in their business achievements, and in the anguish of their personal lives too. The story is beautifully balanced. The author is respectful of the enormous power wielded by the Morgan men, but he is also often skeptical of their motives. He extols the accomplishments of certain partners, but he highlights as well the egregious lapses of judgment and the moral flaws of the executives, including the deep strains of anti-Semitism in the Morgan culture....As a portrait of finance, politics and the world of avarice and ambition on Wall Street, the book has the movement and tension of an epic novel. It is, quite simply, a tour de force. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
J. P. Morgan Sr.'s close relationship with Teddy Roosevelt; his son Jack Morgan's clientele of governments, finance ministers and central banks; and the Morgan realm's split under New Deal legislation are examined in detail in this National Book Award winner. ``Packed with revelations, Chernow's mammoth history demystifies the inner workings of the secretive Morgan banking empire,'' PW said . Photos . Author tour. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Chernow vividly portrays the influence that the Morgan banks have had on the history of the Western economy since the late 18th century. The epic story of the development of the American industrial experience is inextricably related to the history of the Morgan banks. Though this fascinating story is virtually the same as that told by Kathleen Bunk in Morgan Grenfell 1838-1988 ( LJ 12/89), Chernow adds color and personality with an emphasis on the 20th-century development of the bank. Working with recently discovered Morgan archives, he reveals institutional details long hidden by the protective secrecy of the family. This superb history will be an important book. BOMC, Fortune, and History Book Club featured alternates. --Joseph Barth, U.S. Military Acad. Lib., West Point, N.Y.
From the Publisher

Winner of the National Book Award

“As a portrait of finance, politics and the world of avarice and ambition on Wall Street, the book has the movement and tension of an epic novel. It is, quite simply, a tour de force.”—The New York Times Book Review

“As informative and entertaining a history, especially of the period from 1880 to 1930, as this reviewer has ever read . . . Nowhere has our tenuous financial system been better described than by Chernow.”—John Rothchild, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Chernow deftly mixes biography with economics and explicates arcane matters of high finance with sparkling clarity. . . . A fascinating historical journey from Charles Dickens’ London to Tom Wolfe’s New York.”—David M. Kennedy, The Atlantic Monthly

“An astonishingly detailed and fascinating story of the Morgan banks and the men who have run them. Chernow uses his gift for description to bring out vividly the personalities of his principals.”—Don Keown, San Francisco Chronicle

“Epic . . . Chernow melds deep insights into the life and times of Morgan bankers over 150 years with the flow of world history and the growth of banking and finance. With rich detail and warmth, he brings to life the defunct species of gentleman banker.”—Bill Barnhart, Chicago Tribune

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802198136
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
01/19/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
848
Sales rank:
48,430
File size:
6 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Winner of the National Book Award

“As a portrait of finance, politics and the world of avarice and ambition on Wall Street, the book has the movement and tension of an epic novel. It is, quite simply, a tour de force.”—The New York Times Book Review

“As informative and entertaining a history, especially of the period from 1880 to 1930, as this reviewer has ever read . . . Nowhere has our tenuous financial system been better described than by Chernow.”—John Rothchild, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Chernow deftly mixes biography with economics and explicates arcane matters of high finance with sparkling clarity. . . . A fascinating historical journey from Charles Dickens’ London to Tom Wolfe’s New York.”—David M. Kennedy, The Atlantic Monthly

“An astonishingly detailed and fascinating story of the Morgan banks and the men who have run them. Chernow uses his gift for description to bring out vividly the personalities of his principals.”—Don Keown, San Francisco Chronicle

“Epic . . . Chernow melds deep insights into the life and times of Morgan bankers over 150 years with the flow of world history and the growth of banking and finance. With rich detail and warmth, he brings to life the defunct species of gentleman banker.”—Bill Barnhart, Chicago Tribune

Meet the Author


RON CHERNOW is the author of six books, including The Warburgs, a history of the German-Jewish Warburg banking family, and the award-winning biographies Alexander Hamilton and Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

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House of Morgan 4.3 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In ¿The House of Morgan¿, Ron Chernow gives a fascinating account of the rise to prominence of the Morgan, one of the world¿s most influential banking dynasties during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The author narrates, with much clarity, the metamorphosis of JP Morgan into a powerhouse during the Baronial Age, the taming and breakdown during the Diplomatic Age, and its comeback with a vengeance during the Casino Age. Furthermore, Chernow excels in giving life to the characters of the House of Morgan, their allies as well as foes, against the economic, political and social backdrop of their time. The reader progressively comes to the understanding of how much the US financial system is indebted to the domestic and overseas tribulations of a single bank. No other US bank has been able to emulate the power and influence that the House of Morgan has exercised under its various legal disguises since its birth in the City. The eventual repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act does not offer the guarantee that JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, the current incarnations of the House of Morgan, will one day be reunited again. Powerful public and private interests probably have too much to fear and lose from the rise of the Phoenix from its ashes.
PubliusAZ More than 1 year ago
House of Morgan, though lengthy, is a most enjoyable and easy read, filled with political and economic intrigue. It is especially pertinent in light of today's banking "crisis." In the book, we see the rise of central banking again, following Andrew Jackson's killing of the bank, and the role of central banks globally in terms of government policies and the financing of both governments and their policies. Detailed also are a series of domestic and global economic collapses, not unlike what we are experiencing today. The incestuous relationships between big business, big government, and big banks is entertainingly chronicled and should disabuse anyone of the notion that we have a truly free economy founded on market competition--a concept JP Morgan detested. While disagreeing with some of Chernow's assertions--the role of Smoot-Hawley in the great depression being an example, where Chernow is at variance with Milton Friedman--he has on balance produced a highly readable, entertaining, and most informative book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The House of Morgan' is a fascinating book that grasped my attention and introduced me into an intriguing world of finance that I had never before experienced. Expecting a bland, strictly analytical book about Morgan and his banking system, I was shocked to learn about all of the various personalities and characters involved in Morgan's world. This book tells an enticing story of a man and his legacy, along with the system that he helped create and refine. The author's authentic descriptions and attention to details make this book personal and quite enjoyable. Although the book is rather lengthy, it is most definitely worth the time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be an excellent history of the American banking and finance industry. By using the House of Morgan as a vehicle for explaining the whole system and its evolution, it both personalized it and also made it eminently more readable by focusing on a smaller number of personalities which drove the change in the industry. I have only two issues with this book. First, I would have appreciated more treatment of J.P. Morgan himself. I realize that this book is not a biography of the man himself, but he is dead within the first quarter to a third of the book and the rest of the book follows the subsequent history of the bank after his death. My second issue with the book has nothing to do with the writing or quality of the book but rather with the date it was written. It covers the subject excellently up to the point it was published in the late 80's or early 90's. However, given the developments of the financial sector in the last 5-10 years, this is a book which is screaming for an update to address J.P. Morgan Chase's role in the financial crisis of 2008.
WaldoRWE More than 1 year ago
Ron Chernow is my favorite author. With all the financial turmoil today he really educates us about the importance of financial leadership.
Bookmeister More than 1 year ago
If you think today's financial crises spring from something new, read this book. You will see how time after time free markets will out, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Moreover, reading this study of the "bank of banks" will make it clearer than ever that those who do not read history and understand it are doomed to repeat it. While it can be tough reading for those not interested in the inner workings of international finance, its a load of great history for those who are interested.
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Lawrence_Von_Frederick More than 1 year ago
Chernow does a very good job of placing the history of the House of Morgan in its historical context. He writes well and explains most in sufficient detail. For those, like me, who have limited economic knowledge the details can be overwhelming even if readable. He places the House generally in American history but concentrates on the history of banking. The strengths of the book are the detailed biographies of the leaders of the House of Morgan and similar details about how the House, or least some parts of it, adapted to the extreme changes in banking over 100 years or so. Must read for those who want to see how banks as institutions declined and became just another vehicle for profit. The transformation explains the tenuous nature of a global economy dominated by a search for profit rather than concentrating on the core business. Part of the core business was being a guardian of quality in all types of negotiable instruments and working with clients. With those attributes gone it is sad to see business become truly a dog-eat-dog world all done to maximize profit. Certainly makes a case for government regulation as the banks no longer do that institutionally.
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