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By "these topics" I mean mid-20th century Europe (including UK), the related financial history, merchant banking, and the actions and plight of German Jews in those settings. I not only have these interests in abundance, but also benefitted in having just finished "The Warburgs" by Ron Chernow. That book, which tells the saga of the whole sprawling family from the 1800s into the 1990s, across Europe and the USA, but in a less strictly finance-centric way, gave a perfect backdrop and introduction to the times and characters.
It was Siegmund I best related to, for better or worse, as I am a similarly dour, restrained intellectual type. Yet he came vividly alive in the crossing of boundaries, internationally and in banking business, and the bold creativity of his buildup of his own establishment, alongside the more staid doings of his continental and US relatives. He flowed across borders with the facility and liquidity of the namesake of one of his trading arms, Mercury (from whose name the word "commerce" also comes). (Digging further into this type of personality can be done in Jean Shinoda Bolen's "Gods in Everyman," relating to the Hermes-Mercury character.) And, fittingly, Siegmund could be rather ethically limber, for example, willing to deal in Germany postwar and with Germans some of his relatives considered objectionable. He was a very driven man, very limited in other departments of his life, as in his very disciplined marriage; he had to show the world and his doubting family members (in the rivalrous Hamburg branch of the family) his importance. And he did, aplenty: he was a great shaper of postwar finance on that side of the Atlantic. Author Niall Ferguson shows all this with a graceful precision, digging into deals and details at a level Mr. Chernow (for all the quality of his book) did not. Mr. Ferguson's bigger tomes are right at the sweet spot for my interests: he has precision and thoroughness delivered in that crackling English prose I so love. And the narrator is spot on for the job too: ideally British but shifting into convincing German accents to highlight other speakers' own words. Bravo!
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