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The Education of an American Dreamer: How a Son of Greek Immigrants Learned His Way from a Nebraska Diner to Washington, Wall Street, and Beyond Hardcover – June 8, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Twelve; 1 edition (June 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446556033
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446556033
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #719,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"For years, Pete Peterson has performed with distinction on the world's stage-both in finance and public policy. But he still remains the same Nebraska boy who counted change in his father's café. His journey is a remarkable story and his book is an entertaining and refreshingly honest account of his education in business and life." (Warren Buffett)

The name Peter G. Peterson brings to one's mind the word success. From advertising to finance to politics, Peterson has proved to one and all that he has the ability and foresight to lead a generation of thinkers. His ability to say no to things that would tempt even the strongest of us, he has made choices in his life based on his own ideals and the ability to look forward. He is definitely not a man who lives for today only. He has always been a forward thinker, even today, as he wrote this work, he worries about what leaving a mess for our children and grandchildren .. . . This was a good read. It provided a good analyst of today's problem areas while telling the story of a young Nebraskan man who made his life one that everyone will find interesting and motivating. In today's economy, $34.99 is a hefty price to pay for elective reading. However, I will go as far as to say, 'It may be one of the best investments you make this year.' (The Midwest Book Review)

"Dire economic times have left many people wondering if the American dream is just a fairy tale. In his autobiography, The Education of an American Dreamer (Twelve, $34.99), Peter G. Peterson offers a refreshingly credible, often cautionary tale of his own classic rags-to-riches rise -- and a few glimmers of hope, inspiration and guidance for the rest of us . . . At 83, Mr. Peterson is a child of the Depression, but his resume puts most modern-day multitaskers to shame. He is a self-made billionaire and philanthropist as well as a former ad executive, manufacturing mogul, Wall Street financier and secretary of commerce. What distinguishes this book from most memoirs by business titans is Mr. Peterson's ability to mix insider tidbits with humor, painful self-revelation and candid skepticism of the Eastern establishment that eventually welcomed him as a tuxedo-wearing member . . . Mr. Peterson recounts his private life with self-effacing candor . . . Mr. Peterson may be among the last of a dying breed, but it is still uplifting to be reminded that the son of Greek immigrants made his American dream come true." (The New York TImes Harry Hurt III)

"When the memoir of an important person contains insightful information, large dollops of self-deprecation, some humor and clear writing, count that memoir unusual. The memoir of Peter G. Peterson,The Education of an American Dreamer, qualifies as unusual ." (USA Today)

About the Author

Peter G. Peterson lives in New York City with his wife Joan Ganz Cooney, a founder of the Sesame Workshop, and is the father of five children and grandfather of nine. His most recent book, Running On Empty, was a national bestseller. He is the Chairman Emeritus and co-founder of The Blackstone Group, Chairman Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and founding Chairman of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, founding President of The Concord Coalition, and retired Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He is also founding Chairman of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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I doubt you will regret it.
Clevelander83
By reading this book, you will find guidance and gain wisdom from someone else's life.
James Stam
He accomplished great achievements through hardwork, drive, and a good brain.
Jj Jj

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Clevelander83 VINE VOICE on June 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Born to Greek immigrants and raised in Kearney, Nebraska in the 1930's, Peter Petersen learned the meaning of thrift and hard work from his father, who ran a 24-hour diner. From a young age, Peterson practiced his sales skills by selling meal cards to the diner's patrons; he did exceptionally well in his studies and set his sights on something bigger than the small town of Kearney. After a short stint at MIT and figuring out that he was not cut out for engineering, Peterson enrolled at Northwestern University.

His first post-college job was arguably the only dud of a job in Peterson's career, and he quickly realized that his "comparative advantage" did not lie in retail. What followed was a string of positions that led to Petersen being labeled as the "wunderkind" and the "economic Kissinger", among others. He was the youngest Vice President of an advertising company McCann-Erickson at age 27, the genius CEO at Black Bell & Howell, the commerce secretary under Nixon, CEO of Lehman Brothers, co-founder of the Blackstone Group, served on numerous boards and foundations and advised presidents on a variety of topics.

What sets Peterson apart is his lack of "preachiness". He does not pretend to know everything about building a career and he is the first to admit that he had no plan for his own. Throughout the book, he often refers to his promotions and achievements as just "dumb luck". What Peterson does do is bring attention to many worthwhile issues - some of the discussions sprinkled throughout the book focus on economic foreign policy, Cold War, U.S.' relationships with hostile countries, the Nixon administration and most importantly, U.S.' burgeoning budget deficits.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Dan Burstein on June 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Pete Peterson's "The Education of an American Dreamer" is a summer reading book with extreme relevance to the worlds of business, finance, and public policy in the summer of 2009. One of the last true "lions of Wall Street," and one of America's most concerned public citizens, Peterson here tells his life story with serious introspection and often searing candor. From his origins in a Greek immigrant family in Nebraska, to becoming a billionaire with the success of The Blackstone Group, Peterson has never lost his ethical and moral bearings. For anyone thinking about the major issues faced by American business and by the Obama administration as we rebuild the American economy and the American dream, this is required reading. For any young person thinking about a career in finance or in government, this is a book that should be read before you go to your next interview.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Ann Allyn Slessman on June 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
THE EDUCATION OF AN
AMERICAN DREAMER
Peter G. Peterson
Twelve
Hackette Book Group
ISBN: 978-0-446-55603-3
$34.99
Reviewer: Annie Slessman

As I read THE EDUCATION OF AN AMERICAN DREAMER, How A Son Of Greek Immigrants Learned His Way From A Nebraska Diner to Washington, Wall Street and Beyond by Peter G. Peterson I heard the words of my own mother, "You and your willingness to work for it will determine what kind of life you have." It is apparent that Peter G. Peterson agrees with my mother.

Living in a small Nebraska town and working in his father's restaurant, Peterson learned early in life of the opportunities that living in America offered. Of Greek descent, his family worked hard and was very happy with the live they carved out for themselves in the U.S. Peterson's father financed his college education starting at MIT and eventually at Northwestern. No stranger to work, Peterson financed his social life at Northwestern by working as a waiter. Upon graduating from Northwestern he entered the advertising field and eventually worked his way into the financial sector.

The name Peter G. Peterson brings to one's mind the word success. From advertising to finance to politics, Peterson has proved to one and all that he has the ability and foresight to lead a generation of thinkers. His ability to say no to things that would tempt even the strongest of us, he has made choices in his life based on his own ideals and the ability to look forward. He is definitely not a man who lives for today only. He has always been a forward thinker, even today, as he wrote this work, he worries about what leaving a mess for our children and grandchildren. He even contributed one billion to finance his own Peter G.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on July 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
After watching him on the Charlie Rose Show, there is no doubt in my mind that Pete Peterson is a very personable, intelligent, and accomplished individual. Unfortunately, "The Education of an American Dreamer" does not measure up to the man.

Peterson is the first, both on Charlie Rose and in his book, to point out that his life has largely been a random walk through events, each seemingly leading by chance to higher and higher playing fields, while impeding the derivation of "lessons learned." Even lessons learned from his "Blackstone Group" success are wanting - it was accomplished during a decade in which S&P P/Es rose from 15.1 to 33.8, and may not be repeatable; subsequently Blackstone has "tanked" - fallen about 90% since Peterson sold out. (My guess is that his large Rolodex helped considerably.)

Now Peterson, like Buffett (somewhat), Soros, and Gates, has decided that making more money is no longer a priority, and has created a foundation. Peterson's focus is on educating Americans on the economic problems facing this nation. Good for him! Do I think he'll have much success - unfortunately, no - given all the forces that have benefited from getting us into this mess. Regardless, three cheers for Mr. Peterson's having led an honest, selfless, and productive life!
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