The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street as a World Power: 1653-2000

John Steele Gordon, Author Scribner Book Company $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-684-83287-6
The wall in question was torn down 300 years ago. In the intervening years, the narrow crosstown street in downtown Manhattan where the wall erected by Dutch governor Peter Stuyvesant once stood has become the symbol of the New York financial market, and, writes Gordon, ""the beating heart of world capitalism."" In the prologue to this eloquent and engaging history, Gordon (Hamilton's Blessing) asserts that Wall Street's dominant position in the increasingly global economy makes it as worthy of the label ""great power"" as any sovereign state. The focus of his text, however, is to explain the twists and turns of fate that allowed New York to grow into the world's preeminent financial power, surpassing the once equally boisterous Philadelphia market in the U.S., and, at the turn of the last century, London in the global marketplace. Gordon weaves the history of the Street into a brisk and captivating narrative peopled with the fascinating characters who have played a part in its history. From Frederick Philipse, who successfully cornered the wampum market in 1666, to William C. Durant, the founder of General Motors, who lost $90 million in seven months in 1920, Gordon brings to life the stories of both famous and forgotten players in the ongoing game of speculation. He offers cogent explanations of how fluctuating politics and developing technology have changed the stakes, shaped the rules and guided the market through boom times and bad. Although bullish on the market's future, Gordon cautions that the Street should keep one eye on the past and learn from its own history. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1999
Release date: 11/01/1999
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