The Death of the Banker

  • by Ron Chernow
  • Narrated by Michael Kramer
  • 4 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

With the same breadth of vision and narrative élan he brought to his monumental biographies of the great financiers, Ron Chernow examines the forces that made dynasties like the Morgans, the Warburgs, and the Rothschilds the financial arbiters of the early 20th century and then rendered them virtually obsolete by the century's end. As he traces the shifting balance of power among investors, borrowers, and bankers, Chernow evokes both the grand theater of capital and the personal dramas of its most fascinating protagonists. Here is Siegmund Warburg, who dropped a client in the heat of a takeover deal because the man wore monogrammed shirt cuffs, as well as the imperious J. P. Morgan, who, when faced with a federal antitrust suit, admonished Theodore Roosevelt to "send your man to my man and they can fix it up". And here are the men who usurped their power, from the go-getters of the 1920s to the masters of the universe of the 1980s. Glittering with perception and anecdote, The Death of the Banker is at once a panorama of 20th-century finance and a guide to the new era of giant mutual funds on Wall Street.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good short read

Not as dense as the normal Ron Chernow works I'm accustomed to but displays more of the historian's humor; short and sweet remembrance of the evolution of the world of high finance and it's key players
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- Bill

Deep insights, wide comprehension, lively pace

I have read Mr Chernow's giant tomes The House of Morgan and The Warburgs. I liked them very much. But I like Mr Chernow better here, in this more squeezed format. In those huge books he had to labor to tell the whole story, which can be ponderous, versus here, where he can pluck out the really meaningful moments and toss them up with clever turns of phrase. The story can shed its ponderous elevator-music stretches, and sparkle. I am not one to love a movie merely because it has a romping pace to it: I require depth with my liveliness. And Mr Chernow delivers it. Here, despite my countless prior readings in this field (I've heard or read most anything in this non-fiction catalog with words like "banker," "Wall Street," or "money" in the title), the story (and let's be clear, the story principally of "high finance," versus the street-level "Main Street" stuff, though this moves toward the fore as the story goes along) snaps brilliantly into view, passage after passage. A new sheen appeared on the old characters and events. I bought a print version of this (1997-published) book, but was not enticed, flipping through it. Each passage seemed like a splinter, like a bit of a kaleidoscope turn, but I couldn't see any order. This audio version has set me straight on that. The narrator, to start, is a perfect fit. He sort of purrs in a dry amused voice that fits the wit and grace of this crackling-good prose. The writing is in a great articulate English that sadly may be fading. Meanwhile the actors, and their motives, and the picture large and small,all appear in clear relief and perspective. There is some conceptual background to help us filter the stories: it returns from time to time to remind of its theme of the dynamics and adventures of bankers in the three-cornered tug of war between capital sources, bankers allocating capital, and capital's consumers, but plunges back into the story in bold color and detail. I couldn't stop chuckling.
Now, about the aged nature of the book (20 years old now): it shows its age. But it bears this gracefully, handing me tools to understand the present.
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- Phil O.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-25-2017
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a Division of Recorded Books