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The House of Rothschild: Volume 2: The World's Banker: 1849-1999 Paperback – September 1, 2000

3.2 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
Book 2 of 2 in the House of Rothschild Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Continuing the sweeping narrative that he began with The House of Rothschild: Money's Prophets, 1798-1848, Oxford University historian Niall Ferguson conjures up a world in which widespread change and utter uncertainty held sway in the place of carefully ordered dynasties and universally observed mores. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic revolution, European Jews had been able to move within dominant societies somewhat more freely. Of no family was this more true than the Rothschilds, whose branches lived in Germany, France, Austria, and England, and whose vast financial empire enabled them to act as diplomats and power brokers throughout the world. Their influence was enormous. When Spain wanted to build a railroad, its ministers approached the House of Rothschild. When the Confederate States of America sought to be recognized by the states of Europe, it sought--unsuccessfully--the Rothschilds' support. When Ferdinand de Lesseps broke ground for the Panama Canal and Cecil Rhodes broke ground for his vast diamond and gold mines in South Africa, Rothschild funds backed them.

Until the 1920s, Ferguson demonstrates, there was almost no economic, technological, or political development in Europe in which the House of Rothschild did not play some role. The rise of nationalist and national socialist movements and of official anti-Semitism, coupled with the rise in the Jazz Age of a new generation of Rothschilds that cared more for the good life than for the hard work of maintaining their holdings, led to a substantial decline in the family's authority and wealth. But even today, as Ferguson writes in this richly detailed but eminently readable history, the Rothschilds figure in European finance, continuing a legacy that Ferguson's two volumes trace from the Middle Ages to the new millennium. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Ferguson is not only publishing massive works of history at an astonishing rate; he is publishing well-written and controversial books. The Pity of War (Forecasts, Mar. 8) caused a stir by arguing that Britain bore the brunt of the blame for WWI. The completion of his two-volume history of the Rothschild banking empire begins at a high point of wealth, power and civic involvement, with Benjamin Disraeli a close family friend and Lionel Rothschild playing a leading role in gaining Jews the right to sit in Parliament. The book ends with the post-WWII rebuilding of the Rothschilds into a far-flung "mini-multinational." Drawing on thousands of letters from private Rothschild archives, Ferguson does a masterful job of showing how the Rothschild financial empire interacted with the governments of Europe. His account is peppered with countless refutations of previous interpretations and analyses. Yet the larger historical picture is often blurred as Ferguson furnishes blow-by-blow accounts of, for example, the French Rothschilds' ultimately successful decades-long battle against the Cr?dit Mobilier. Readers will be left wanting more analysis of the larger sea change that consigned the Rothschild style of private banking to its current secondary status. And while he follows the senior partners in Britain and France (other houses, in Naples, Vienna and Frankfurt, either closed or simply receded from Ferguson's view), Ferguson sticks to their public deeds and roles, rarely venturing into the personal or the psychological. Still, this history is teeming with soundly argued expositions on the role of a singularly important family. Illus., charts, tables, appendices. (Nov.) FYI: In November, Penguin will publish The House of Rothschild: Money's Prophets 1798-1848 in paperback.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Revised edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140286624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140286625
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Niall Ferguson is one of our most renowned historians. He is the bestselling author of numerous books, including The War of the World, Colossus, and Empire.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
let me begin by saying that i am not in the habit of handing out five stars in my reviews, but this fine book certainly deserves it. i am not quite sure what to make of some of the criticisms leveled at this book in the reviews until now--too many facts, overly exhaustive, too much about continental finances or politics? can a definitive work of non-fiction have too many facts or be too exhaustive? what meaning do the rothschilds have if not in the context of continental politics. i loved every one of those three qualities about this book and, to boot, though it was appallingly well written as well. i found ferguson exhiliratingly (is this an adverb? it ought to be one) willing to assume that i could assimilate mass amounts of data, only sometimes arcane, and still want to follow a linear, only sometimes, social history--that's what definitive works are all about, i think. i applaud ferguson's not dumbing down history. and perhaps that is the difference between those who very much this book and those who didn't. i wanted to read history, and got it; others, perhaps, wanted to read a good yarn and didn't.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Since "Empire" I have been a devoted reader and viewer of Ferguson's work. With "The House of Rothscild" he has sold out. I think this work was commissioned by the family. In the last 50 pages the author tells us that the family's fortunes have dwindled and he implies they have had their day. Their association with J, P Morgan & Co. Kuen Loeb, Schiff and the Warburgs and the creation of the Federal Reserve are not covered.

Ferguson states that the Rothschilds missed putting their stamp on the USA. He doesn't cover their American agents who were operating before the Civil War, nor their rescue of the Bank of England and subsequent granting of Bank of England shares.

A shame this is not the real story. Shame on the author for being "paid off".
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Format: Paperback
Ferguson insults the purchaser of the Penguin Paperback by omitting the bibliography and only providing sketchy footnotes. "Serious scholars" who desire these items are advised to buy the Harcover edition. Other than that, it is a good read
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very complete book, a mine of facts but the author was unable to sort what is important from miscellaneous. The mix of general european history, business history and family events is by moments as indigestible as porridge por a non-scot.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fascinating story, but very heavy on detail and light on the characters involved, except for Natty who was more drawn out, which may have been because there was more resource material available to draw on, like old correspondence. I am sure the author would have liked some diaries as well. But thanks to this book I now have a vague understanding of the way the bond market for countries operates which was a mystery to me before. But I was looking for more about the people although there was a lot of detail about the stats which were very hard (impossible) to read in the Kindle format so I had to skip and go forward.
My suspicion is that this book is aimed as the business economics degree market and not at the popular reader, which is me.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Purchased this and volume 1 so that I could learn about the Rothschild's rise and their current status. It seems like in order to get access to the Rothchild's papers Mr. Ferguson had to play too much of a cheerleading role. I was hoping for more neutral perspective. I was NOT looking for dirt or about how they exploit people (they are bankers, what do you expect), but I was expecting a more well-rounded approach. There is a lot of information in these two volumes, but I found this one (the 2nd) to be less compelling. It seemed like Mr. Ferguson was trying to finish it and lost interest in the subject. The first volume I would read again, this one I would pass on.
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Format: Paperback
The second volume of the family saga is not as compelling as the first. Perhaps that is due to the length of time covered, or perhaps due to the relative decline of the Rothschilds in the world of finance. Still, this is a compelling story, which is skillfully narrated by Mr.Ferguson
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This thorough, long, and orderly history of the Rothschild banking dynasty is a deeply traditional business history text. It's full of coherent details, narrated clearly. There are thousands of footnotes, and a huge bibliography. As reference material, I'm sure it's flawless. It's obvious that the author accomplished his goal. But I wished for one meal described, one suit of clothes worn, one grand (or not-so-grand) apartment described. Alas, none of this is included in this story. Pitifully few tidbits flesh out this text. It's business history set against a background of world history, but neither the motivations nor the humanness of the Rothschilds is part of the picture. Ultimately, it disappoints.
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