Top positive review
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Well researched and elegantly written history of the Street
on July 15, 2008
There are few institutions in America that evoke such strong emotions among the general public. For over two centuries most Americans have viewed the goings on on Wall Street with a very jaundiced eye....and with very good reason. From the Gilded Age to the dot.com boom of the 1990's the way business was conducted on Wall Street would have an enormous impact of the lives of farmers, factory workers and shopkeepers across this nation. Author Steve Fraser has managed to capture the essence of this love-hate relationship with the Street in his marvelous new book "Wall Street: America's Dream Palace".
For those who know little about the origins of Wall Street Steve Fraser presents a brief history in his Introduction to get us all up to speed. Interestingly enough, this book has only four chapters, each scrutinizing the roles of what Fraser considers to be four iconic Wall Street types including the aristocrat, the confidence man, the hero and the immoralist. In each chapter, Fraser presents vivid portraits of those legendary individuals who for better or for worse have made their mark in the world of high finance. Fraser spotlights such diverse charactors as J.P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Charles Ponzi and Michael Milken to name but a few. Fraser also discusses at some length how the dot.com boom lured many Americans into the stock market for the very first time and how so many of us were burned by the unscrupulous actions of con men like Michael Milken, corporations like Enron and WorldCom, as well as by a variety of unsavory speculators and day traders.
Overall I found "Wall Street: America's Dream Palace" to be an extremely informative and highly enjoyable read. I enjoy writers with outstanding vocabularies and Steve Fraser can turn a phrase with the best of them. Lots of great information packed into this terrific little book. Highly recommended!