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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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