9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An Immigrant's Story,
This review is from: Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California (Hardcover)
"Towers of Gold" by Frances Dinkelspiel is about her great-great-grandfather, Isaias Hellman. If you have never heard of him, you might know one of the banks he built, Wells Fargo Bank. Wells Fargo was in the news several months back by buying Wachovia, one of those failed banks. Speaking of failed banks, this book also shows the start and rise of Lehman Brothers Bank, which declared bankruptcy this year.
This is not about banking, it's about a German-Jewish immigrant that ended up in Los Angeles who worked, saved, and started businesses, of which banking was his specialty. Isaias Hellman's struggles and triumphs in business shows how far someone with intelligence and determination, in the right circumstances, can achieve.
"Towers of Gold" also chronicles the rise of Los Angeles from a town on a marshland to a major city and a bit of business history through two depressions, one before 1900 and the one after.
Dinkelspiel also writes fascinating glimpses of the founding and founding figures of Stanford University, University of California, Levi and Strauss, Southern Pacific Rail, Nob Hill, Bank of America, Lehman Brothers, San Francisco cable cars, Los Angeles, and Mount Zion Hospital.
I enjoyed reading the Towers. It is fast-paced and detailed. Events and people are shown in their background, which allows the reader to see there are very few black and white issues. The "Towers of Gold" puts the current banking crises in perspective. Frances Dinkelspiel's saga about her great-great-grandfather shows his place in California history.