Sunday, June 06, 2010

Five best: books about financial dynasties

Fouad Ajami, a professor at Johns Hopkins, named his five favorite books about financial dynasties for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on the list:
Gold and Iron
by Fritz Stern

In perhaps the single best book on financial history, Fritz Stern tells of the tangled relationship between Otto von Bismarck and Gerson von Bleichröder. Statesman and banker, Junker and Jew, the two men rose together against the background of a new German empire. The great themes of 19th-century German and European history—capitalism, high finance, Jewish emancipation and its nemesis—intersect in this pair. Bismarck needed money to finance the wars of German unification. That need gave Bleichröder his sway, but he was never allowed to forget his Jewish origins; the ambiguity of Jewish success ran through Bleichröder's life. His death came in 1893, Bismarck's five years later. Kristallnacht and the destruction of German Jews were still decades away, but a reader can sense the terrible storm over the German horizon.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue