THE DAVIS DYNASTY: Fifty Years of Successful Investing on Wall Street

John Rothchild, Author, Peter S. Lynch, Foreword by . Wiley $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-471-33178-0

In 1988, Shelby Davis was listed as one of the 400 richest Americans by Forbes magazine, with assets of $427 million, which had grown from $50,000 in 40 years of investing in insurance company stocks. The same year, his son, also named Shelby Davis, made the Forbes Honor Roll for reliable mutual fund investments. Four years later, members of the third generation, Andrew and Chris Davis, joined the family business: Chris working for his father, managing mutual funds, while Andrew managed his grandfather's personal holdings. The elder Shelby Davis, who died in 1994, emerges as the most intriguing character in this family saga: before turning to investing in midlife, he was an author and political player; in his later years he became a prominent philanthropist and ambassador to Switzerland. He embroiled the family in tabloid headlines in the early 1960s by attempting to give his daughter's trust fund to Princeton University without telling her. Unfortunately, Rothchild was unable to get much insight into these characters either through documentation or interviews. The younger Davises cooperated with the book, but lead less broad and colorful lives than their progenitor. The result is a gentle and superficial family saga interspersed with common sense investment wisdom applied to 50 years of financial history. (Sept.)

Forecast:With all due respect to Shelby Davis, he is a B-list investment celebrity: Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch and other A-listers command more attention for espousing similar principles. This book will appeal mainly to those who have already read the classic great investor biographies (including the same author's bestselling One Up on Wall Street, about Peter Lynch).