Wriston: Walter Wriston, Citibank, and the Rise and Fall of American Financial Supremacy

Phillip L. Zweig, Author Crown Publishers $40 (0p) ISBN 978-0-517-58423-1
The son of a famous Midwestern academic, Wriston stumbled into the banking business shortly after returning from WWII, when he joined First National City in Manhattan. He was a major force in transforming not only National City but the entire American banking industry, from a heavily regulated, tradition-bound field into an aggressive player in international markets. A staunch believer in free markets, technology and overseas lending, Wriston oversaw the growth of National City into the first bank holding company, Citicorp, which has interests in a variety of financial areas. During his career, capped by a 17-year reign as CEO, there was virtually nothing that occurred in the world of banking--ranging from the bailouts of Mexico and New York City to the spread of banking deregulation and the use of credit cards--that Wriston and Citibank were not heavily involved with. Zweig (Bellyup: The Collapse of the Penn Square Bank) artfully blends Wriston's personal and business lives, along with the American banking scene in the 1940s through the mid-1980s, into a compelling story. Although there is more detail here about banking practices than the casual reader will care to know, this is an absorbing biography of one of the most influential men in recent banking history. Wriston and his family and friends were among Zweig's hundreds of sources. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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