Customer Reviews: Black Tuesday
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on September 18, 2011
I bought this book after seeing Ms. Prins hold her own againt Bill O'Reilly on Fox News last week. Given the dismal state of our economy, history definitely does seem to be repeating itself. At first, I thought the book would be more chick-lit, with the stoic woman taking on big, bad Wall Street, etc but I couldn't have been more wrong. Black Tuesday is a fantastic mix of darkness and moral choices, greed and overcoming odds - it was a gripping, intense, page-turning read. Bravo to Ms. Prins for taking on the biggest banker on Wall Street and becoming an unlikely crusader for our time. I will definitely be first in line for her next book!
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on October 3, 2011
Nomi Prins returns to the spotlight not with another hard-hitting book of journalism, but with a historical fiction romance.

I know what you're thinking. I thought it too. I'll be the first to say, I am a fan because of book like It Takes a Pillage: An Epic Tale of Power, Deceit, and Untold Trillions. Romance is not my usual genre. It works on several levels, so I'm still a fan.

Black Tuesday is the tale of Leila Kahn. She's an Eastern-European immigrant who has come to America to make a better life for herself after her family was decimated by Cossacks. In the part of her life we see, she becomes a waitress and manager at a coffee shop on Wall Street. This vantage point allows Prins to walk the reader who is unfamiliar with finance through some of the basics. The reader is in Leila's shoes as she learns about the workings of Wall Street from her customers. If you're familiar with it, as I am, it might feel a bit didactic. I thought so at first but then realized Leila had to learn from somewhere.

The plot centers on the love that Leila grows for one of here customers, a dashing banker who turns out to be part of the powerful Morgan family. Roderick, the banker, wears the crown heavily, as he has to walk thin ethical lines to keep the share price of the bank up and his tyrannical uncle happy. Leila is torn though, because she has a long-standing relationship that can't hold the changes in Leila's life.

Prins develops the two main characters fairly well. They have a life that isn't too cut and dried, making the book worth reading to see what happens. Nelson, the boyfriend, isn't as well developed, and I for one never understood the attraction between the two characters. It was just something that existed prior to the year that we are allowed to see, the year bracketing the Black Tuesday of the title. Perhaps there was something in the past that made the present worth holding on to. I don't know.

This being historical fiction, you have to rebuild the world that was. Prins does this by checking the big events in Manhattan in the 20 years before the crash. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, the bombing of the Morgan building, and Babe Ruth's dominance all find a place. I was surprised that there wasn't more about the war, the Palmer raids, and the Russian revolution; perhaps they are too political for a book like this.

Ultimately though, the book is about finance, and when it covers the area it does pretty well. What surprised me was that Black Tuesday the event comes pretty early in Black Tuesday the novel. The effects of finance loom large. It is as if Prins wanted to write a companion volume to Galbraith's The Great Crash 1929 with a human face. She does it well without being forceful of a powerful lesson the book shows and that we are living: we need to learn. Yet we don't. Over and over again.

As a disclosure, I received a copy of this book from the author, so I am biased. However, I am not typically a romance guy, so perhaps that balances. Maybe not. It is worth a read, no matter what genre you prefer.
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on December 6, 2011
It is a great book! I love the mix of history and fiction and Black Tuesday takes you to this path.

I just finished reading New York (by Rutherfurd) which I really enjoyed and I was looking for a good book like that one. Then, I found out about Black Tuesday listening to the interview Ms. Prins gave to Brian Lehrer from WNYC and decided to read it.

Congratulations to Ms. Prins, i is a very good book.

Leila is such a great character in all aspects - her thoughts about her new country, trying to grow, learn and help her family and, of course, her love dilemmas in a historical scenario perfectly presented by the author.

Go ahead, read the book, you will enjoy it.
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on November 9, 2011
The first thing about this book is that is so visual: every scene it is just made for Hollywood.

The protagonist, Leila Kahn, a young Russian immigrant fresh from post-revolutionary pogroms, serves coffee and new-fangled things called hamburgers in Moishe's cramped Wall Street diner that stinks of beef; her customers are fractious Wall Street types whose wandering hands she cannot avoid as she edges between the tables, her own hands busy with cups and plates.

She shares a crowded Lower East Side tenement with an ailing aunt and other relatives, where sleeping is only possible in shifts, and where a washroom with leaky pipes, icy water and cracked tiles is shared with two other apartments.

Ironically, Leila is attracted to one particular banker who visits the diner every day; and turns away from her boyfriend, the firebrand Nelson, who dreams of the day when the poor will rise up and over-run Wall Street.

Tense scenes play out in the plush apartment of the conscience-stricken banker who becomes illicitly involved with Leila. There are riots outside the bank and more direct violence on a lonely, late-night Manhattan street. There is a harrowing scene in an abortion clinic, and some dramatic court scenes.

Personal conflict bursts on every page. Moral decisions are threaded through the narrative of this drama that resembles in many ways what is happening today: a villainous bank peopled by ruthless characters prepared to stop at nothing to hide fraud.

The lay reader gets a good rundown on the financial basics as Leila the newbie asks questions and gets answers.

And then Leila gets to learn things she should not know, and is confronted with making decisions against a threatening backdrop of violence and death.

Her search for solid evidence of fraud takes an unexpected turn when she gets a surprise visitor--the banker's aloof wife, who makes a frantic late night trip to the Lower East Side, leaving her chauffeur-driven red Rolls Royce parked outside the Orchard Street tenement.

Leila is an attentive listener and a quick learner: "Well, thank you, Roderick, that's comforting. But I'll tell you something, I was listening to you all these months, and I know you and the Morgan bank---hell, probably all the big banks---have been boosting up this market, gathering up ordinary people to keep it going, and lying about everything."

And there are some memorable lines---this from Leila's ailing Tanta Rosa, stricken with multiple sclerosis who lives with her in the tenement: "'Sometimes you don't find your cause, Leila," said her aunt with a little smile. "Your cause finds you. There is a fight buried in all of us.'"

Nomi Prins keeps the pages turning, as one thing leads to another. And if the dialogue tends to be wooden, and some of the passages could do with tightening, it is a small price to pay for a great read.

As a non-fiction writer, Nomi has made the transition to fiction, which is some accomplishment. Most non-fictioneers just don't make it.
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on October 13, 2011
If you are familiar with the background, experience and connections of Nomi Prins, then you know she is more than qualified to write about the 1929 crash. But she chose to do it as a novel and did a great job of blending fact and fiction while keeping the story suspenseful and intriguing. I found myself wanting to keep reading it even when my eyes got tired, and that doesn't happen very often with me.

She did a very good job of showing the parallels between the '29 crash and the current meltdown which started in 2008. History repeats itself. "The only new thing in this world is the history you don't know." President Harry S. Truman.

As Nomi has pointed out in her other writings, stock market crashes all come from the same virus....the creation and issuing of worthless or badly overvalued pieces of paper("securities" sold under catchy names) and doing it on a massive and unregulated scale.
And there is absolutely nothing in place now (Oct. 2011) to prevent it from happening again and again.

She also does a great job of depicting the values, beliefs and lifestyles of the upper strata that floats along on the shoulders of the masses. And that is important because it is that regal mindset of imperial privilege and immunity that creates the environment and conditions for the ongoing royal fleecings of the masses by the ruling class (banksters if you prefer).

Somebody has to shine a bright light on these cockroaches who have been stealing our fortunes and futures since the 1920's, and before, and are still doing it. Nomi Prins is trying to tell us that these pillages are nothing new, are very predictable, and have a very, very preventable cause.

Check out her website at [...]
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on April 16, 2014
This novel is an attempt to create a picture of wall street's despicable behavior in the first Great Depression. The 1929 stock market crash was just low tech version of our 21 century one . Nomi has worked on wall street and survived with her integrity intact and sharpened by what she saw. If you want more detailed analysis, try her non-fiction!
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on October 5, 2011
I read Nomi Prin's 'It Takes a Pillage,' and was awed at her intelligence and valor to stand up to the likes of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and all the other Titans of high finance (Wall Street.)

When I heard she was releasing a novel that was set during the Great Depression, I was immediately intrigued. I received the book and could not put it down. It is rare to be able to enter the mind of such a brilliant woman. Great themes are brought to mind that are not often portrayed or discussed in today's society. Themes we need to discuss and understand. All of this insight interwoven in characters you MUST find out what happens to in the end!!!

Thanks Nomi Prins for this rare treat!!!!!
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on October 17, 2011
Black Tuesday is an entertaining novel with enough historical facts thrown in that one begins to wonder what's true and what's fiction. I find Wall Street stories fascinating and this one sucked me in and made me want to keep turning the pages until my eyes hurt. The description that Leila, the lead protagonist, gives of the arrogant character of the bankers she meets could be describing many modern day figures. What makes it all the more compelling are the eerie parallels between today's economic environment and the causes of the 1929 stock market crash as Leila learns about them.

Her Wall Street education unfolds through the twists and turns and trials of her emigrant life and love affairs. Her thoughts, questions and conclusions were such that I felt as if I was right there with her. "The power of Wall Street is no less than the Cossacks." And even though I have little in common with an emigrant Russian woman in 1929 her experience was so familiar I found myself agreeing with her often. Background explanations such as the conservative Wall Street Journal and politicians soothing the public before the crash with ideas that everything was fine and that our country was back on track and that blaming the great banker was just "sour grapes" read like a Déjà vu experience as did the progressive newspaper talking of a depression that was the result of bankers lying and stealing from the public. To top it off, this captivating story ends in a way that I didn't expect. Now if we only had a modern day Leila. But in 2011 we'd need ten Leila's. Black Tuesday is a great read that does double duty as an entertaining historical novel and a modern day wake-up call to our current Wall Street environment.
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on October 22, 2011
If you are anything like me, you need a book to grab you right away and this does it. Amazing characters and details that keep you imagining what it was really like to be alive during the 20's.... And a hot steamy romance to keep you wanting more.
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on October 15, 2011
I do not read fiction. However, given that this book is by Nomi Prins I made an exception. Boy I am glad I did. One of the first things I enjoyed about the book was the "feel" I learned about New York City. The history, seasons and characters all come together to build one exciting read. This book also gives me hope about our present economic situation. Without spoiling the story my main take away is small people can make a difference against elite forces. Bravo to you Nomi. I hope this becomes a movie, I will be first in line!
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