The Life and Times of Dillon Read

Robert Sobel, Author Dutton Books $24.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-525-24959-7
Smooth as a worn school tie is Hofstra University economist Sobel's capacious history of the Dillon Read investment-banking firm. The company underwrote such diverse bond issues as those for Germany's WW I reparations payments, the sale of Dodge Motors to Chrysler in the 1920s and construction of New York's Triborough Bridge during the Depression. Moderate in size and philosophy, dominated for decades by gentlemanly Clarence Dillon and functioning cautiously on ``the outermost fringes of the inner circle,'' the firm relied on careful research, innovative fiscal approaches and comfortable relationships with wealthy clients of the firm's own Ivy League executives, among them such national figures as James Forrestal and Nicholas Brady. In Wall Street's heyday of the '20s, Sobel reports, Dillon Read partners and favored insiders routinely were handed fat profits on successful issues. Hard put to maintain its conservative character in the deregulated junk-bond fireworks of the '70s and '80s, Dillon Read played a role in gigantic Howard Hughes and RJR-Nabisco financial upheavals, and has now moved uptown in a vastly changed investment atmosphere. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
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