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The Warburgs: The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family Paperback


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The Warburgs: The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family + The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance + Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (August 23, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679743596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679743590
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #215,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

All three of Ron Chernow's books are lengthy and solidly researched, but his background as a journalist shows in his ability here to convey complex material in terms of vivid characters and a well-defined theme. As in his National Book Award-winning business history (The House of Morgan) and his comprehensive biography of John D. Rockefeller (Titan), in The Warburgs Chernow employs marvelously detailed material to trace a single overarching story: the riveting and ultimately tragic odyssey of German Jews. The Warburgs were Hamburg's preeminent banking family from the 18th century until Hitler's Third Reich forced them to hand over their business to Aryans in 1938. But they also boasted among their family members a celebrated art historian (Aby Warburg), a Nobel Prize-winning scientist (Otto Warburg), and the financial angel of the New York City Ballet (Edward Warburg). Two of the "Famous Five" brothers married American women at the turn of the 20th century and became honored members of the Wall Street establishment, so Chernow's lively narrative imparts important U.S. social and economic history as well. But don't let all those fancy credentials intimidate you: The Warburgs features enough flamboyant personalities and high-class gossip to make this as entertaining a read as the latest issue of People magazine. --Wendy Smith

From Publishers Weekly

The rich, sprawling story of 400 years of a German-Jewish banking family by the author of The House of Morgan .
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Ron Chernow won the National Book Award in 1990 for his first book, The House of Morgan, and his second book, The Warburgs, won the Eccles Prize as the Best Business Book of 1993. His biography of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., Titan, was a national bestseller and a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Alhough 700+ pages, this book was hard to put down.
Mitchell Millowitz
Extremely well written, easy to read, informative and gives a very clear picture of the times and the family itself.
Judith Nadelson
M.M. Warburg & Co. is Germany's second largest private bank.
Serge J. Van Steenkiste

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
The best way to learn & really "feel" history is to see it in familiar events, like the story of a family. Ron Chernow has achieved this feat with all 3 of the books I have read by him -- the Rockefeller book, the Morgan book and this book. This volume resonated with me more than the others since I am jewish, and since a number of my ancestors were assimilationist german jews (but never of the magnitude of the Warburgs!). The foolishness & the triumphs of this extended family would have made interesting reading even without the context of world events, but that's what makes the difference between a fair book and a great book. Chernow is particularly good at weaving in the world events without sounding ponderous or pedantic.
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful By L. Dann on February 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
Ostensibly the study of a remarkable, wealthy dynasty, The Warburgs is a monumental history of Europe, the United States, Israel and even Africa. The author manages to faithfully document the lives of these international bankers, nobel prize winning scientists, explorers and philanthropists against some of the most haunting events in human history.
That the Warburg family loved their German homeland is indisputable. Even after WWII, some descendents could not resist returning to Hamburg, to see the old estates, to embrace old nannies, employees and to on one occassion, steal back a valuable vase that the Nazi's had appropriated elsewhere. They were passionate German citizens later of course spurned and victimized.
From Imperial and then Weimar Germany, the Warburgs were integral to achieving the ends of their leaders; Max Warburg worked tirelessly up until the very end, to secure a peaceful neutralization of Hitler's intention for the Jews. He was involved in assuring a Dutch purchase of Nyassaland in Northern Mozambique which ultimately played a significant role for Rommel's troops.
The family with connections to the Rothschilds, Loebs, Kuhns and others had solid foundations in the U.S. with one Warburg advising Theodore Roosevelt and later, of course, FDR. And logically, from this family where ambivalence toward Judaeism was an on-going theme, there were inevitable struggles and betrayals during the seeding and conceptualization of an Israeli sovereign state.
The book has many levels of interest- it involves a history of culture and the arts, of Jewish European exodus to the U.S and to Israel, it presents scenes of wealthy Jews celebrating with Christmas trees, of kids attending Anglican schools, and even flirtations with far left and deeply conservative politics.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Serge J. Van Steenkiste on August 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ron Chernow narrates with panache the riveting tribulations of the Warburgs, a prominent Jewish banking dynasty emerging in Germany in the sixteenth century. The author does an outstanding job in switching back and forth between the Alsterufer Warburgs and the Mittelweg Warburgs, the two rivaling branches of the Warburgs. Ron Chernow indeed vividly recasts the numerous actors of that saga against the economic, political and social backdrop of their time. The author brilliantly helps his readers understand the painful dilemma that many German Jews, keener and keener on assimilation into Germany, faced especially under the Weimar Republic and then under Nazism. Ron Chernow also underlines how several Warburgs emigrating outside Germany had a positive influence on the unfolding of some key domestic and overseas events. Ironically, M.M. Warburg & Co., the German cradle of the banking dynasty that Nazism and then internal infighting almost torpedoed with success, is the only one to remain independent today. M.M. Warburg & Co. is Germany's second largest private bank. S.G. Warburg is now part of Union Bank of Switzerland while Warburg Pincus, successor of E.M. Warburg, belongs to Credit Suisse.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
The history of the Warburg family is a amazingly tragic, hopeful and truimphant one. Ron Chernow describes the tight rope that Jews trod, at different stages of world issues, in a captive and sensitive manner. The author describes the begining of the banking dynasty and progresses through each genration leaving a unremovable image of each member. With a few exceptions, for every successful and optimistic father there is a unsure and detached son. For every mother who was a perfectionist and hardworking, there was a loyal, ambitious son. Not being Jewish, but understanding the feeling of not being fully assimilated in my own society, i personally appreciated this balancing act. However i believe that the issues of their religion and their trade, whilst very significant, play a complementary backdrop to which is essentially a superb insight into a diverse and ambitious family. One which, i think we can all relate to. I'd recommend it for all readers out there.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
It is a magnificently told story of one of the most influent families. It is beautifully written with an exceptional level of details. At the end it is a history tome, but it just does not feel like one. I was able to start and finish it in one week, thats how captivating the read is.
These are some of the impressions I was left with:
You cant but notice and appreciate the style and journalistic craftsmanship of Ron Chernow in the making of this book.
What adds to that appreciation is the fact that details about this family (especially the German side) must of have been very hard to find and disclose, as the power of the banking families is secrecy. Kuddos to Ron for doing that. The enormous amount of details gives a complete picture of the history of the family.
The description of the struggle of the Warburgs under the Nazis (their weakness [the denial, the false hopes, etc] as well as their strengths), and the description of how the sneaky nazis dealt with with the high-finance class of Jewish bankers, it was all new to me. Even the fact and details of the post-war details were quite astonishing.
The details of the involvement of the American Warburg was also new, or rather I only knew pieces of it. This book put it all together and in the same context.
The only negative or rather neutral impression is that as much as Mr. Chernow had tried to describe the fact in a fair and honest way (and backed up by fact and bibliography) you just feel that the story seem to be told by the family members themselves, as the way they saw or interpret things to have happened. The facts are there but they seem to be there in order to lead you to a predefined conclusion, instead of leaving the reader to interpret them.
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