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The Death of the Banker: The Decline and Fall of the Great Financial Dynasties and the Triumph of the Small Investor

Overview

"For anyone interested in the world behind the business-page headlines, this is the book to read." --Publishers Weekly

With the same breadth of vision and narrative élan he brought to his monumental biographies of the great financiers, Ron Chernow examines the forces that made dynasties like the Morgans, the Warburgs, and the Rothschilds the financial arbiters of the early twentieth century and then rendered them virtually obsolete by the century's end.

As he traces the shifting...

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Overview

"For anyone interested in the world behind the business-page headlines, this is the book to read." --Publishers Weekly

With the same breadth of vision and narrative élan he brought to his monumental biographies of the great financiers, Ron Chernow examines the forces that made dynasties like the Morgans, the Warburgs, and the Rothschilds the financial arbiters of the early twentieth century and then rendered them virtually obsolete by the century's end.

As he traces the shifting balance of power among investors, borrowers, and bankers, Chernow evokes both the grand theater of capital and the personal dramas of its most fascinating protagonists. Here is Siegmund Warburg, who dropped a client in the heat of a takeover deal because the man wore monogrammed shirt cuffs, as well as the imperious J. P. Morgan, who, when faced with a federal antitrust suit, admonished Theodore Roosevelt to "send your man to my man and they can fix it up."  And here are the men who usurped their power, from the go-getters of the 1920s to the masters of the universe of the 1980s. Glittering with perception and anecdote, The Death of the Banker is at once a panorama of twentieth-century finance and a guide to the new era of giant mutual funds on Wall Street.

"Chernow . . . delivers a sound, accessible account of the forces shaping capital, credit, currency, and securities markets on the eve of a new millennium. "
--Kirkus Reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Chernow, author of The Warburgs and the National Book Award-winning The House of Morgan, strays somewhat from his trademark biographies in this trio of essays. True, two essays, "J. Pierpont Morgan" and "The Warburgs," revisit past scholarship, but both are in the service of his reprinted lecture, "The Death of the Banker." Even in such a brief volume, Chernow manages to reveal much about the personalities of the Rothschilds, the Morgans and others and to offer telling, entertaining anecdotes. For example, Chernow tracks the origins of the "cold call" to a broker in the 1920s who "telephoned one number and was told the party he was trying to reach was dead. Without missing a beat, the young broker asked, `Well, can I please speak to his next of kin?'" This is the background that allows Chernow to chronicle the dramatic shifts in the banking and brokerage community over the past century. There is no longer a clear demarcation between a banker and a brokerageas evidenced by this year's merger of Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter. Furthermore, Chernow says the old antagonism between Wall Street execs and plain folks no longer really applies: "Main Street can no longer clash too vigorously with Wall Street since the two sides have grown indistinguishable from the rise of giant brokerage chains and mutual fund groups." For anyone interested in the world behind the business-page headlines, this is the book to read. July
Library Journal
Chernow revisits here a period he explored in depth in earlier works: the 19th-century golden age of merchant banking and the likes of J.P. Morgan The House of Morgan, LJ 2/1/90 in the United States and the Warburgs The Warburgs, LJ 9/1/93 in Europe. His work grew out of a lecture in which he maintained that "the salient fact of 20th-century finance will be the sharp erosion of banker power." What he meant was the passage of "relational" banking, where bankers had ongoing relationships with their clients, to a "transactional" type of banking, where all bankers are competing for the same work. To justify his point, he here profiles both the Morgan and Warburg banks in two separate essays. While both are well written, one wonders why he's reinvented the wheel. His two previous books on Morgan and Warburg are brilliant and masterly, yet his condensation of their lives for his new book, while highly readable, makes the reader hunger for more. Appropriate for larger business collections.Richard Drezen, Washington Post News Research Ctr., Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375700378
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/28/1997
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 409,736
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Ron Chernow
Ron Chernow
Ron Chernow's first book, The House of Morgan, won the National Book Award and the Ambassador Award for the year's best study of American culture. His second book, The Warburgs, won the Eccles Prize as the Best Business Book of 1993 and was also selected by the American Library Association as one of that year's best nonfiction books.
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Table of Contents

Introduction
The Death of the Banker 3
Tycoons I: J. Pierpoint Morgan 87
Tycoons II: The Warburgs 107
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