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The House of Rothschild: The World's Banker,…

The House of Rothschild: The World's Banker, 1848-1999 (1999)

by Niall Ferguson

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140286624, Paperback)

Continuing the sweeping narrative that he began with The House of Rothschild: Money's Prophets, 1798-1848, Oxford University historian Niall Ferguson conjures up a world in which widespread change and utter uncertainty held sway in the place of carefully ordered dynasties and universally observed mores. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic revolution, European Jews had been able to move within dominant societies somewhat more freely. Of no family was this more true than the Rothschilds, whose branches lived in Germany, France, Austria, and England, and whose vast financial empire enabled them to act as diplomats and power brokers throughout the world. Their influence was enormous. When Spain wanted to build a railroad, its ministers approached the House of Rothschild. When the Confederate States of America sought to be recognized by the states of Europe, it sought--unsuccessfully--the Rothschilds' support. When Ferdinand de Lesseps broke ground for the Panama Canal and Cecil Rhodes broke ground for his vast diamond and gold mines in South Africa, Rothschild funds backed them.

Until the 1920s, Ferguson demonstrates, there was almost no economic, technological, or political development in Europe in which the House of Rothschild did not play some role. The rise of nationalist and national socialist movements and of official anti-Semitism, coupled with the rise in the Jazz Age of a new generation of Rothschilds that cared more for the good life than for the hard work of maintaining their holdings, led to a substantial decline in the family's authority and wealth. But even today, as Ferguson writes in this richly detailed but eminently readable history, the Rothschilds figure in European finance, continuing a legacy that Ferguson's two volumes trace from the Middle Ages to the new millennium. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:29 -0400)

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