The Last of the Imperious Rich: Lehman Brothers, 1844-2008

Peter Chapman, Illustrator
Peter Chapman, Penguin/Portfolio, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-59184-309-2
Reviewed on: 11/29/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-101-44270-8
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-101-43870-1
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-59184-432-7
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Financial Times journalist Chapman (Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World) traces the tumultuous journey of the infamous Lehman Brothers, from simple beginnings in Alabama to respected financial titan to unexpected demise. Chapman meticulously chronicles the epic American story of the Lehman dynasty, from German immigrant Henry's arrival in New York in late 1844, through the family's ascension into the upper echelons of financial power, to 2008, their final year. By providing a thorough historical context along with an exploration of the political and economical forces in play at the time, Chapman demonstrates how the company, which began as a general store in Montgomery, Ala., mirrored the growth of a nation: "Throughout its history, Lehman Brothers had been at the forefront of every major emerging trend in America—from automobiles to movies to aircraft," Chapman states. The author also details the inner workings of other financial companies' practices, many of them questionable. It's an authoritative, intriguing account of both the how and the why of the company's failure that illuminates the deep roots of the financial collapse. (Sept. 2)
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