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Rainbow's End: The Crash of 1929 (Pivotal Moments in American History) [Paperback]

Maury Klein
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1, 2003 0195158016 978-0195158014
Rainbow's End tells the story of the stock market collapse in a colorful, swift-moving narrative that blends a vivid portrait of the 1920s with an intensely gripping account of Wall Street's greatest catastrophe. The book offers a vibrant picture of a world full of plungers, powerful bankers, corporate titans, millionaire brokers, and buoyantly optimistic stock market bulls. We meet Sunshine Charley Mitchell, head of the National City Bank, powerful financiers Jack Morgan and Jacob Schiff, Wall Street manipulators such as the legendary Jesse Livermore, and the lavish-living Billy Durant, founder of General Motors. As Klein follows the careers of these men, he shows us how the financial house of cards gradually grew taller, as the irrational exuberance of an earlier age gripped America and convinced us that the market would continue to rise forever. Then, in October 1929, came a "perfect storm"-like convergence of factors that shook Wall Street to its foundations. We relive Black Thursday, when police lined Wall Street, brokers grew hysterical, customers "bellowed like lunatics," and the ticker tape fell hours behind.

This compelling history of the Crash--the first to follow the market closely for the two years leading up to the disaster--illuminates a major turning point in our history.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The first serious account of the Crash of 1929 was Only Yesterday, by Frederick Lewis Allen, published less than two years after the event and still in print. Disappointingly, Klein's effort is almost a chapter-by-chapter retelling of Only Yesterday, adding some research from the last 70 years but lacking Allen's firsthand knowledge and writing skill. Klein (The Life and Legend of Stephen Jay Gould) is an academic historian. His prose is pleasant enough, but he dashes hope of depth or rigor with the claim that the Crash cannot be explained by economics, or indeed by any observable historical forces, but by a change in national mood. This assumption permits him to focus on such topics as baseball batting averages, flagpole sitting and hemlines between 1900 and 1928. He also explores the "irrational exuberance" fostered by the period's colorful Wall Street personalities, men like Sunshine Charley Mitchell, the great, attention-seeking bond trader who headed National City Bank. Provocatively, he also observes the period's preoccupation with escape newly available through the automobile, the motion picture, sports and television and its economic impact.Yet Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts analyzed the culture of the period more effectively in The Day the Bubble Burst. (Oct. 29)Forecast: There are many books on the 1929 market crash, but John Kenneth Galbraith's innovative and engaging The Great Crash of 1929 easily remains the best account for the general reader; those already knowledgeable about the Crash will find this account wanting. Klein is a prominent business historian, however, and the topic should garner some review coverage and sales.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Klein (history, Univ. of Rhode Island), a Pulitzer Prize finalist who specializes in American business history, observes that "scholars have yet to determine what actually caused the [1929 stock market] crash and the role, if any, it played in bringing on the depression that followed." Nevertheless, in this well-written, well-documented, and fast-paced narrative, he explores the myriad social, political, cultural, and economic events that led to the crash and its immediate aftermath. With his scene-setting discussions of the prosperous 1920s, the era's various enterprises and their leaders (e.g., Henry Ford and Sunshine Charley Mitchell, head of the National City Bank), the speculators drawn into the game, and the political atmosphere of the Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover years, Klein helps readers better understand the reaction of millions to an event that shook the world. Parallels to the recent business climate make this a timely publication that should be considered by academic and public libraries. Steven J. Mayover, Philadelphia
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Series: Pivotal Moments in American History
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195158016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195158014
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,173,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A colossal event seen through individual's eyes May 17, 2003
Maury Klein, in his book Rainbow's End: The crash of 1929, has given us a blend of a newer style of historiography with the traditional sense of examining historical events. He has given us a look at the Stock Market Crash of 1929 through the eyes of the people that participated, rather than looking at it strictly from an economic or political historical viewpoint.
Klein starts his book with a description of American society in the 1920's and explains to us why the society of excess and speculation led to the crash moreso than a failing of the general American economy. By dotting the landscape with characters, some familiar and some unfamiliar, Klein gives us a good portrayal of the times.
There is, unfortunately, only a short section of the book that actually deals with the events of the crash itself. This section focuses the days between Black Thursday and Bloody Tuesday, which culminated in a horrific period of losses in the market.
Klein does a good job of staying on task during the sections of the book in explaining the economic factors and the behind-the-scenes actions that took place during these few hectic days. He does not, however, explain the immediate social ramifications (such as the fact that people who lost everything gave up on life) as well as might be expected; he gives this facet of the crash only peripheral coverage.
I would recommend this book to anyone that is looking for a socio-economic history of America during this 1920's. It does a very good job of covering this topic. However, if one is looking for details just on the crash itself and those few terrible days on Wall Street, that reader would be well served to find another book to read.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shifts in American Psychology during 1918-30 November 3, 2001
As someone who is interested in economics, financial markets, and business, the stock market crash of 1929-1932 has always grabbed my attention in those terms. As a result, my favorite book on the events leading up to the stock market melt down is John Kenneth Galbraith's famous book, The Great Crash 1929. Having recently reread that book to contemplate the stock market melt down of 1999-?, I was interested to see what lessons could be drawn from that experience to this one from reading this book.
As a work of psychological history, Professor Klein was hampered by the lack of survey and sentiment indices. As a result, he relies a great deal on what prominent people had to say and what they did. As a result, the bulk of the material repeats what Galbraith covered. To this material are added thoughtful observations about trends in popular expenditures for automobiles, interest in sports (especially baseball), fads (such as flag-pole sitting), modern marketing (including advertising through movies and radio), and the acceptance of installment purchasing.
He picks up a number of individuals who represent different "types" who experienced the stock market crash, to help us see how the effects varied from person to person. Groucho Marx saw himself lose money he could regain through future earnings, while others saw themselves wiped out for all time. Both Charley Mitchell (no relation) of National City Bank and Jesse Livermore provide cautionary tales. I was fascinated by Professor Klein's thoughts about how Herbert Hoover was caught in a dilemma between his desire to help and his strong feeling that government should be kept small.
This notion of focusing on the psychological change though would apply much better to the Great Depression itself than to the stock market crash.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Rainbow's End, by Maury Klein could have been a good book. In fact, it should have been a great historical read about America during the Roaring Twenties, leading up to and precipitating the Crash and the Depression. But Klein falls far short and disappoints with this entry into the "Pivotal Moments in American History" published by the Oxford University Press. This volume seemingly couldn't decide whether to be decidedly research based or, as with others in this series, to be a narrative form "that can be read for pleasure and instruction by anyone with an interest in its subject", according to it editors, David Hackett Fischer and James M. McPherson.

The book's prologue "The Summer of Fun, 1929" is clearly its highlight, certainly a dubious distinction. "In the summer of 1929 much of America was on an artificial high. It was a high born not of drugs but of an illusion that the prosperity and the good times then being enjoyed were made of new miracle ingredients that would last forever." Klein paints a vivid portrait of life in America in his early pages but sadly does not follow along in that form.

Throughout the book the reader cannot help but think that this is more of a reporter giving much more detail than needed, literally day by day of the Dow and the New York Times Index, often in the absolute and without percentages so one gets a relative idea of what was going on. Additionally, and quite strangely, Klein doesn't weave into his writing the many causes of the Crash and also poorly differentiates between the Crash and the Depression.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A time of irrational exuberance
I liked this book in spite of its dry writing style. It covers an important event in U.S. history, namely the great crash of the stock market in 1929. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Veritas
5.0 out of 5 stars FIscal Cliff, Version 1!
Many of us forget, that there have been plutocrats and oligarchs since sea shells were trading mediums, and much like today, there were always those who were looking to "Get... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Kyle F. Mcgrogan
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid story from the people's point of view
I really enjoyed this book both because of the writing style and content.

The writing style is a strong narrative with various good characters and events, and is written... Read more
Published on July 2, 2012 by KindleReader
5.0 out of 5 stars Crash of 29
Since college I have been an active reader of causes for the crash. Nothing in my text books can compare with the facts in this book. Read more
Published on January 1, 2010 by John R. Anderson III
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but there are better resources
This book is not bad, but it is a little disappointing. Both Galbraith's The Great Crash 1929 and Frederick Lewis Allen's Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's were... Read more
Published on November 11, 2009 by Tim Bigby
4.0 out of 5 stars A new perspective on the Depression
At Rainbow's End provides a succinct yet through look at the Great Depression and how it changed life in America. Read more
Published on April 21, 2008 by Lehigh History Student
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books to learn about the market and enjoy it too!
I have to admit I am a bit biased since I am interested in the Stock Market and especially the present market's similarity to that of the time referred to in the book. Read more
Published on February 19, 2006 by Thomas Fox
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not good enough
Klein's retelling of the story of the stock market crash of 1929 is just too little and much too late. Other books, notably Only Yesterday by F.L. Read more
Published on June 27, 2003 by "alan1492"
4.0 out of 5 stars Wha' Happ'n?
"No era ever vanished so suddenly, so completely, as the
twenties." -- -- David Dempsey, _New York Times_, Feb 15, 1970
This is a quick run-through of the Crash, with a... Read more
Published on August 24, 2002 by The Sanity Inspector
5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing argument is presented, here
Maury Klein's Rainbow's End: Crash Of 1929 reveals the story of the Wall Street stock market collapse in 1929 using a narrative which focuses as much on the cultural and economic... Read more
Published on January 8, 2002 by Midwest Book Review
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