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Dealings: A Political and Financial Life Hardcover – November 2, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A veteran investment banker--and the man who saved New York City from its 1970s fiscal crisis--tells his rags to riches story in this energetic but uneven memoir. After a narrow escape from Nazi-occupied Paris, Polish-born Rohatyn (Bold Endeavors), currently chairman and CEO of the investment firm Lazard Ltd., scrambled for an American education and found work as an assistant and tutor to Edith Piaf. When that gig dried up, he began working at the small investment bank of Lazard Frères--thus beginning his storied financial career. Rohatyn tells the story of his journey with fastidious detail--from fighting in the Korean War, enduring a difficult stretch (and an SEC investigation) on the board of ITT, through his invitation to join the board of governors of the NYSE at a young age, his 18 years as chairman of New York City's Municipal Assistance Corporation, and finally his ambassadorship to France. Though he's lived in turbulent times and accomplished much, this memoir feels one-note and suffers from dry storytelling; not even the financial wheeling and dealing and celebrity cameos (Frank Sinatra, Bennett Cerf, Jack Welch) will retain the reader's interest. (Nov.) (c)
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From Booklist

In 1940, Rohatyn, a 12-year-old Jewish immigrant from Austria, escaped with his family from Nazi-occupied France. He traces his remarkable journey into the heart of investment banking, starting in 1949, when he was hired by Lazard Frères and participated in some of the most significant deals in the late twentieth century. These include turning around Avis, transactions with ITT, the Warner–Seven Arts deal (which involved Frank Sinatra), RCA’s merger with GE, and the merger of Time Inc. and Warner Brothers. Also interesting is how often Wall Street efforts intersect with government officials and policy. Highlights of the author’s memoir are his involvement in the rescue of New York City from bankruptcy beginning in 1975 through the MAC (Municipal Assistance Corporation), which had authority to issue long-term bonds, and his anatomy of a deal, the 1987 saga of the RJR Nabisco leveraged buyout. Rohatyn’s amazing career was capped with his four-year appointment as ambassador to France, and today his involvement in investment banking continues. Excellent book. --Mary Whaley

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439181969
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439181966
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,193,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Felix Rohatyn has given to us a wonderful account of what it was like to spend 50 years with one of the dominant investment banking firms in the century, the secretive Lazard Frères. First of all this is not a book for everyone. There is a somewhat limited audience, so determine if this book is for you before reading the review. I give it 4 stars only because of the somewhat limited audience for this book. For pure writing, this would be a 5 star narrative.


If you are interested in Wall Street history over the last half century than this book is very much for you? Rohatyn does an excellent and short job of going through the various crises that investors and the economy have struggled with during this period. The turbulence of the 60's, the destruction of the stock market itself in the early 1970's, the almost financial bankruptcy of New York City during that period as well, it's all here. The author was a principle participant in the rejuvenation of NYC, and devotes considerable effort to describing how all the players made it back from the brink.

A second audience should be young people. I have several young people from poor backgrounds that I mentor who have an interest in having a Wall Street career, and this book is PERFECT for them. It's easy to read, flows very nicely, and is honest and to the point. You feel as though you are sitting in your living room and having a casual conversation as Lazard Frères' illustrious investment banking partner lets you in on the salacious details of deal after deal for which he was the intermediary.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dwight L. Short on December 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a great way to look back on the history of municipal finance and the birthplace of investment banking in the modern era. If you remember when New York City almost declared bankruptcy, then you can appreciate the differences today post Rudy Guiliani and Mike Bloomberg. In the 1970's, the economic issues were so low profile compared with today and the basis for many of the power brokers in today's world were set in motion by Mr Rohatyn and his cohorts in the investment banking world. The book is revealing in the sense that the author may be one of the last of our generation who was forced to come to the USA because of his Jewish heritage only to find that the same reason he had to flee Europe and the Nazi's also was a key element in his success here. He appreciated the freedom to be himself and work hard to do well and help others to do well. I highly recommend!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on December 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The most significant business deals in the long Wall Street career of Felix Rohatyn, along with his notable achievement in helping save New York City from bankruptcy in the 1970s, form the core of this book. Apparently this socially conscious private banker's ingrained discretion prevented his writing what certainly could have been a more candid and interesting book.

Financial life predominates over political life (and hardly any personal life intrudes) in the telling of this story. Disappointingly little is said, for instance, about Mr. Rohatyn's stint as U.S. ambassador to France under President Clinton. And what is said of this period is mostly vanilla, about art exchanges.

I found it odd that such a high profile product of New York City did not choose to comment or reflect on 9/11; attacks directed in large part against the U.S. financial system

Small errors I spotted include: When nominated U.S. ambassador to Japan, Mr. Foley was the former Speaker of the House, not the current one as implied on p.256; Mr. Strauss was the former United States Special Trade Representative, not merely one stationed in Japan as implied on p. 228: and, as a matter of style, why mention the Four Seasons three times in one paragraph as is done on p. 223?
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