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When Money Was in Fashion: Henry Goldman, Goldman Sachs, and the Founding of Wall Street

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This epic biography tells the story of the rise of Wall Street and the growth of Goldman Sachs from a small commercial paper company to the international banking business we know today. At its heart is the story of Henry Goldman, a man who spoke out passionately for his beliefs, understood the importance of the bottom line, and was known to chuckle, draw on his cigar, and remind his young protégés, "Just keep in mind . . . Money is always in fashion."

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When Money Was In Fashion: Henry Goldman, Goldman Sachs, and the Founding of Wall Street

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Overview

This epic biography tells the story of the rise of Wall Street and the growth of Goldman Sachs from a small commercial paper company to the international banking business we know today. At its heart is the story of Henry Goldman, a man who spoke out passionately for his beliefs, understood the importance of the bottom line, and was known to chuckle, draw on his cigar, and remind his young protégés, "Just keep in mind . . . Money is always in fashion."

Though you will rarely find a mention of him in the official history of Goldman Sachs, it was Henry who established many of the practices of modern investment banking. He devised the plan that made Sears, Roebuck Co. the first publicly owned retail operation in the world, helped convince Woodrow Wilson to pass the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, and became a power player in the world of Wall Street finance at a time when Jews were considered outsiders.

The book traces Henry Goldman's hard-fought and often frustrating career with Goldman Sachs, a company founded by his father Marcus and fraught with professional rivalries. The tensions between the Goldman and Sachs families extended outside of the boardroom and into the larger world as the United States went to war. Henry’s steadfast support for Germany during World War I would tarnish his reputation and drive him from the firm. But his involvement with finance would continue throughout his life, as would close friendships with luminaries like Albert Einstein, whom he would later join in outspoken denunciation of Hitler’s atrocities against European Jews.

Here, June Breton Fisher, Henry Goldman’s granddaughter, tells his whole story for the first time—a story that has shaped contemporary finance and continues to resonate with us today.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"When Money was in Fashion provides a much needed and fascinating look into the life of one of Wall Street's original elder statesmen. Fisher's story is both revealing and personal and provides behind-the-scenes insight into the formative period of Wall Street's growth." —Charles Geisst, Author of The Last Partnerships and Wall Street: A History

"Most Americans know more more about string theory than they do about high finance — and even less about the character, family background and inner life of Wall Street's principle protagonists. This beautifully written and quietly revealing biography provides a timely, fascinating and discretely unflinching account of the life of Henry Goldman — the sixth child and second son of Bertha and Marcus Goldman, the founder of Goldman Sachs, and a key if complex force in the evolution of the firm during the first two formative decades of the 20th century. Written by Goldman's granddaughter, June Fisher, it combines a rare inside family portrait of America's most powerful banking dynasty with an unusual degree of elegance, irony and restraint. Anyone interested in the history and lineage of Goldman Sachs will be riveted by Ms. Fisher's story." —Ric Burns, documentary filmmaker

"When Money Was in Fashion is a fascinating and enlightening window into a major part of Wall Street history: the now legendary investment banking firm of Goldman Sachs and Henry Goldman, one of the firm's prime shapers." — John Steele Gordon, Author of An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power

 

“[An] immigrants-made-good saga….[A] memoir of an admired grandfather by a current-day octogenarian who was 10 years old when he died….Patriarch Goldman knew how to enjoy his money after earning it, knew how to enjoy togetherness with family members, knew how to enrich the citizenry he sometimes had been accused of exploiting.”—USA Today

 

"A graceful account of Goldman and his era....[A] charming family scrapbook."—Bloomberg Businessweek

Library Journal
Fisher here pays homage to her grandfather, Henry Goldman, and his 32-year involvement with the famous Wall Street firm founded by his father, Marcus Goldman. Understandably, her book reads more like a family—almost genealogical—history than a corporate one. Fisher also chronicles the Sachs family, with insightful discussion of intermarriages that helped build the firm of Goldman Sachs. Although she clearly idolizes her grandfather, she does acknowledge shortcomings, notably his unshaken faith in his ancestral Germany up to, during, and following World War I, which contributed to conflicts between the Goldman and Sachs families and eventually led to Goldman's departure from the firm in 1917, thus effectively ending Goldman family involvement. As Fisher tends to use the first names of the many Goldman and Sachs descendants, readers may get confused—family trees would have helped. VERDICT While this book sheds valuable light on Henry Goldman's accomplishments, it is less a chronicle of finance than a biography—even a hagiography—of a beloved relative. There are also a few historical errors and gaps. Students of U.S. financial history will still be best served by Charles Ellis's authoritative The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs.—Richard Drezen, Brooklyn, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Henry Goldman's granddaughter looks at his Wall Street accomplishments and his family life. Of German Jewish heritage, Goldman wanted for little after his parents settled in the United States and combined with the similarly situated Sachs family to enter the investment-banking industry. Today the two families play little role in the influential investment bank at the center of so much recent controversy. Fisher does not stretch to offer contemporary relevance, other than noting that Wall Street has ridden out booms and busts before, some of them during her grandfather's tenure. The author offers superficial anecdotes that suggest her grandfather was a financial genius whose backing led to the growth of not only Goldman Sachs, but also many corporations he backed, including Sears, Roebuck and Co., F.W. Woolworth, May Department Stores and the Studebaker Corporation. Frequently shifting her focus from the investment-banking realm, Fisher explores the souring of the social relationships between the Goldman and Sachs families, her grandfather's acquisition of world-class art, his friendship with Albert Einstein and his financing of the career of child-prodigy violinist Yehudi Menuhin. Goldman found it difficult to let go of much of the conventional wisdom of the day, such as the support of the gold standard as the basis for the world economy; defense of the German state despite its predations before, during and after World War I; and the denial of virulent anti-Semitism around the globe. Goldman believed in tirelessly creating wealth for himself and his favored clients and would repeat the phrase, "Money is always in fashion." At times the book reads more like a family album rather than ahistory of Wall Street. A low-key, meandering memoir about an admired grandfather. First printing of 50,000. Author tour to New York, Chicago, San Francisco. Agent: Victoria Skurnick/Levine Greenberg Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230617506
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/27/2010
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

June Breton Fisher is Henry Goldman’s granddaughter. She was born in New York City in 1927, graduated from the Brearley School and attended Bryn Mawr College. She lives in Santa Barbara, CA.

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Table of Contents

Preface 1

1 Against All Odds 5

2 Banking in "The Swamp" 25

3 The Goldmans and the Sachses 43

4 Going Public 67

5 War in the Boardroom 89

6 Phoenix Rising 119

7 The Fine Art of Collecting Fine Art 161

8 Bull Point Camp 201

9 A Child Prodigy 225

10 End of the Line 245

Afterword 263

Notes 269

Index 274

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Rich History Explaining Wall Street's Beginning

    Written by Henry Goldman's granddaughter, this well researched tale does an excellent job of explaining the early days of Wall Street and how the Goldmans and the Sachs got together to form the most powerful brokerage firm. The firm was actually founded by Henry's father Marcus and his good friend Joseph Sachs who also founded a top boy's prep school. At first the Goldman's and the Sachs were very close and several of their family were married in "arranged" fashion.

    The children were never close though and were always at odds in the early firm. When Marcus passed on the Goldman's and the Sachs' virtually split and Henry Goldman and Sam Sachs (Joseph's son) were constantly fighting over the business.

    It is amazing the opportunities that were ripe for these men at the time and their paths crossed with a virtual history book of famous people like Sears, Guggenheim, Lehman, who all went on to found huge companies too.

    Highly recommend!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    Mating place 2

    Goldclan mating place 2.

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  • Posted October 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An intriguing family history of Goldman Sachs

    The Goldman Sachs colossus straddles the financial world today, but it started as a family business. June Breton Fisher, great-granddaughter of founder Marcus Goldman, draws on information from relatives and her own memories to portray the little-known story of the firm's founding. Two teenage boys met in a synagogue in Bavaria and throughout marriages, births, deaths, conflict and scandal, they gave life to Goldman Sachs. Whatever you may think of the bank, you'll find its forebears, particularly Henry Goldman, to be intriguing, innovative and very human. getAbstract recommends this loving memoir for its slice-of-life narrative, though astute readers will need to sort through its scattered inconsistencies and errors. And, it lacks a badly needed family tree. You might quibble over the title - after all, when hasn't money been in fashion? - but Henry's quote actually was, "Money will always be in fashion." How right he was.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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