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

Ron Chernow, Author
Ron Chernow, Author Vintage Books USA $13.95 (144p) ISBN 978-0-375-70037-8
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-679-30859-1
Hardcover - 128 pages - 978-0-7126-6646-6
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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 brokerage--as 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)
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