From the Inside Flap
Once in Golconda At noon, on September 16, 1920, a horrendous explosion rocked Wall Street, instantly claiming the lives of thirty pedestrians and seriously injuring hundreds more. Yet, for all of its awesome force, that bomb was a firecracker compared to another, much more spectacular one, several years laterthe great stock market crash of 1929. Once in Golconda is a dramatic chronicle of the breathtaking rise, devastating fall, and painstaking rebirth of Wall Street in the years between the wars. Focusing on the lives and fortunes of some of the eras most memorable traders, bankers, boosters, and frauds, award-winning author John Brooks brings to vivid life all the ruthlessness, greed, derring-do, and reckless euphoria of the 20s bull market, the desperation of the days leading up to the crash of 29, and the bitterness of the years that followed. Writing with authority, verve, and considerable humor, Brooks introduces us to a bygone world in which the likes of Junius Morgan and fellow members of the Yankee "aristocracy" jealously controlled Wall Street as if it were their private hunting preserve. He also offers striking portraits of the generation of rawly ambitious newcomers who rose up to topple the old regime, including Irish Catholic "counter jumpers" such as "Sell em" Ben Smith and the mercurial Joseph Kennedy who clawed his way up from being one of the most cunning of shady speculators, to first head of the SEC, to king-maker. At the center of this colorful whirlwind of a tale is the magnificently hubristic Richard Whitney. The story of his rise to the presidency of the New York Stock Exchange and his eventual downfall and imprisonment for stock fraud and embezzlement characterizes the play of monumental forces that transformed Wall Street from WASP Camelot to public institution. Though it was first published in 1969, this riveting tale explores timeless themes of profound significance for todays investorsfrom the corruption that led to the creation of todays securities laws to the folly of investor hubris in a bull market.
From the Back Cover
"In this book, John Brookswho was one of the most elegant of all business writersperfectly catches the flavor of one of historys best-known financial dramas: the 1929 crash and its aftershocks. Its packed with parallels and parables for the modern reader." Richard Lambert Editor-in-Chief, The Financial Times Praise for Once in Golconda "A fast-moving, sophisticated account
embracing the stock-market boom of the twenties, the crash of 1929, the Depression, and the coming of the New Deal. Its leitmotif is the truly tragic personal history of Richard Whitney, the aristocrat Morgan broker and head of the Stock Exchange, who ended up in Sing Sing." Edmund Wilson, writing in the New Yorker "As Mr. Brooks tells this tale of dishonor, desperation, and the fall of the mighty, it takes on overtones of Greek tragedy, a king brought down by pride. Whitneys sordid history has been told before.
But in Mr. Brookss hands, the drama becomes freshly shocking." Wall Street Journal "Its all there in Once in Golconda: the avarice of an era that favored the rich; and the later anguish of myriads of speculators doomed by a bloated market, easy credit, and their own cupidity and stupidity. The book, which is great reading, has a real message, especially for a generation of speculators that know neither the pangs and privations of a depression nor of blue chip stocks that drop fifty points in a single days trading." Saturday Review "Mr. Brooks has convinced me, absolutely, that Richard Whitney ranks in the highest pantheon of American symbolslike Lincoln and Bryan and Melville and Hemingway and Yellow Kid Weft, Buffalo Bill, and Horatio Alger
and even Babe Ruth. In him, the upper-class con crestedand Americas last chance to do it right the first time ended." Harpers