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Siegmund Warburg (1902–1982), scion of a Jewish banking dynasty, fled Nazi Germany to London, where he became a leading banker and an informal economic adviser to prime ministers—but his importance doesn't shine through this unfocused biography. Financial historian Ferguson (The Ascent of Money) styles him a financial innovator (he engineered Britain's first hostile takeover), a pioneer of European economic integration (he helped invent the Eurobond), a prophet of globalization, a paragon of fiscal rectitude whose principles could have helped us avoid the current economic mess, and a deep thinker about international affairs. Unfortunately, Ferguson doesn't make a compelling argument for his subject's significance. Laymen will find his sketchy treatment of Warburg's feats of high finance rather opaque and his case for Warburg the humanist and intellectual weak (and undermined by his subject's obsession with handwriting analysis). Ferguson uses Warburg's life as a window onto European unification and Britain's postwar economic malaise, but his account, which is constantly distracted by deal making and office politics at Warburg's banking partnership, is too unsystematic to do these topics justice. The view from Warburg's lofty perch doesn't make for a discerning perspective on the world around him. (July)
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No longer the banking force it formerly was, the Warburg name belongs to historians now. Ron Chernow chronicled the clan in The Warburgs (1993), and here the notable economic historian Ferguson (The Ascent of Money, 2008) depicts Siegmund Warburg (1902–82), who in his prime was the most important and influential member of the family. Verbose for someone trained in accountancy, Warburg amassed written opinions about virtually everything, furnishing Ferguson with an abundance of source material that he synthesizes with a practiced hand. Throughout his life, Warburg was never passionately interested in money. His early aspiration for an academic or political career was thwarted by the Nazi ascendance in his native Germany. Warburg immigrated to London, where, from the platform of his reestablished banking business, he involved himself in intelligence during WWII and in proffering advice to Labour Party politicians afterward. Sketching in the bibliophilic Warburg's intellectual interests, Ferguson's comprehensive biography ably integrates the private, public, financial, and philosophical facets of Siegmund Warburg's character. --Gilbert TaylorSee all Editorial Reviews
In his preface Ferguson makes a sort of apology for writing about a somewhat obscure financier, as more readers prefer their history to be about rulers or important political... Read morePublished on August 13, 2013 by Gderf
Discarded book without finishing it.
I very much enjoyed Ron Chernow's "The Warburgs" and bought this title for more detail on Siegmund. Read more
This is the second book I have read about the Warburg family, and I am still impressed. Niall Ferguson is the "go to" man for reading about economics.Published on February 11, 2013 by Strom
Nobody to even to give it away, who would want it,! Warburg isn't portrayed in the light of a Krueger or Morgan. Dull, dull book!Published on February 4, 2013 by Joseph Klinger
I consider this book an excelent complement of both books about Roschilds. Ferguson has a nice pen to describe economic and politics issues since a point of view of bankers. Read morePublished on February 18, 2011 by Borges
This panoramic biography of Siegmund Warburg reveals a complex man who built international banking in response to the great turbulence of the 20th century. Read morePublished on February 10, 2011 by Rolf Dobelli
Niall Ferguson has produced another masterpiece. I was drawn to his work a couple years ago after listening to him on Bloomberg Surveillance and Bloomberg on the Economy and I... Read morePublished on January 16, 2011 by Zachary Winston
I feel an acute ambivalence toward Niall Ferguson's work: if his name is on the byline of a column in the FT or the Wall Street Journal, I will gladly read it as he brings the... Read morePublished on August 17, 2010 by M. E. Llorens