Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Wall Street: America's Dream Palace (Icons of America)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars8
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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!
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on June 21, 2008
Steve Fraser has a wonderful, crisp style that moves your eye
along the page and onto the next. This is one of those rare
non-fiction books you wish were longer.
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on June 4, 2008
Wonderful, thorough history of the banking industry and Wall Street since the inception of this country. A must read!
Debb
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on January 17, 2009
The author has written another excellent expose showing what ultimately happens when a forgetful public allows Wall Street speculators,aided and supported in their securitization schemes by the big investment banks (These types of institutions currently no longer exist after their financial collapse in 2008.However, one can be assured that, with the passage of time, speculators will attempt to regroup and start their schemes again) and commercial banks,to dominate the capital and credit markets of the United States.

The following quote pretty much sums up the book :" With the active connivance of many of the Street's most powerful investment banks,not just Enron but a slew of major corporations-Tyco,WorldCom,Adelphia,QWest Communications,Arthur Anderson-turned out to be little more than stupendous confidence games designed by top management to defraud the investing public..."(pp.90-91).Of course,large numbers of financial analysts,with their MBA degree training in the Efficient Market Hypothesis telling them that speculative bubbles could not exist,were needed to provide the fig leaf of " economic analysis " to support the constantly rising bubble prices.

I have subtracted away 1/2 of a star because the author is unaware that Adam Smith,back in 1776,had already provided a complete analysis warning his readers of the consequences of allowing unregulated commercial banks from teaming up with speculators to put their " projects " into reality.Smith's conclusion,that all of the savings of the banks' depositors would end up being wasted and destroyed is as true to day in 2009 as it was back in 1776.Keynes's similar conclusion in 1936 in his The General Theory is essentially a more technically and analytically advanced version of Smith's cogent 1776 literary analysis based on Smith's understanding of the Mississippi and South Seas bubbles in the 1719-1721 time period .No one has ever improved in Smith's basic ,fundamental conclusion-the purpose of a central bank is to prevent the private commercial banks from making loans to speculators.An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.America, post 2008,is in for many.many pounds of cure.
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on December 26, 2009
Marvelous piece of writing that is easy to read, panoramic in its perception, and undeniably informative regarding the birth and development of Wall Street, and the idea of "investing" not simply as a capital-generating tool for moguls and tycoons, but for the common man.
Once you finish reading this brief treatise on the Street, and some of the influential individuals who pushed it in various directions, I think any reader will come away with the idea that perhaps, the stock market is similar to playing Russian Roulette with an automatic. If you have deep pockets and can sustain financial losses with a Douglas Fairbanks laugh, and a cavalier toss of long, carefully-styled hair, then by all means waltz down the center line of the Street.
Mr. Fraser's book gives much information, and lots of invitation to dig further into the mechanism of American finance as it existed prior to this somber and much-sobered post-economic-meltdown environment of the approaching new year and beyond.
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on January 27, 2015
very good value, thanks.
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on April 5, 2013
A different look at the titans who created the modern financial world
Be prepared to be enlightened educated and shocked
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on January 19, 2009
I thought this book would be a history of Wall Street but it isn't. Sure it touches on some of the "titans" of Wall Street such as Morgan, Vanderbilt, Gould, etc., but only anecdotically to over and over and over again drive home the author's point that these guys were "bad." They may or may not have been but I didn't learn enough from this book to make my own decision.
11 comment|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse