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The House of Rothschild: Volume 1: Money's Prophets: 1798-1848 Paperback – November 1, 1999
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Ferguson's sprawling history covers much ground and involves a cast of hundreds of players. At the outset he notes that his book was commissioned by the modern descendants of the House of Rothschild; even so, he approaches his task with careful balance and a critical eye, pointing out the Rothschilds' failings as well as successes. The result is a fine, solid contribution to economic history, one that, unlike so many books in the field, is eminently readable. --Gregory McNamee
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
While the two volume work has great sweep, it lacks depth. One senses that since the Rothschild heirs gave the author access to previously unseen source materials, he was reluctant to level serious criticism against the family. Remember, in many cases the financing they provided governments was the necessary, but not sufficient, ingredient for great human suffering -- the very point of these volumes. It is not all a dark picture for the family's activities, far from it, but a blind eye has been turned. More importantly, one turns away from the effort of reading these volumes feeling unfulfilled. Of all that he has written, what was the significance of this great family's prodigious financial activity? Were they a force for good or evil? On balance, has humanity benefitted or been ill served by them? These questions linger as the second volume concludes, and they remain unanswered, or at least, without an answer from this obviously talented and hard working author.
An essential, if unsatisfying, work.
After reading this it seems that the Rothschilds were in the business of making large loans to governments and then packaging these loans as bonds and selling them to the public. They were as much bond and commodity traders as they were bankers, which I found interesting. There are numerous quotes from letters written back and forth between family members that will give you a sense of their personalities. The family history is very detailed so if this is the kind of thing you are interested in then you will probably enjoy the book more then I did.
Ferguson is a scholar who loves challenges: not just challenging arguments, but also challenges in the sheer volume of sources and research, and finally challenges to the reader in presenting controversial theses (I think specially of those advanced brilliantly, and contentiously, in "The Pity of War" - see my review if interested).
This last effort is mainly an attempt to unveil the Rothschild mythology, restoring an historically accurate perspective both of the family saga and of the banking and financial European history from 1798 to 1848.
The book is a masterpiece for many reasons: not just story of a family (circumscribed to the male members), not just story of a great banking institution in the past two centuries, but also comprehensive financial history of the first half of XIX century... "a rich and nuanced portrait" as the book leaflet reads - that reveals and hides, but also creates an appealing and fascinated image of those turbulent years.
So, it can appeal the history buff, and all those readers interested in financial history (and speculative bubbles) as well as those interested in biography and cultural history.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There's too much boring detail , the book should be half as long . I like the author and appreciated the research , the use of original material but way too many... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
Hard to access footnotes and many diagrams and documents do not translate well on ereaders. Buy the book. It's better in my opinionPublished 2 months ago
Naill shares the true about this family so we can learn and apply that which was good.Published 4 months ago by Moisés Mendoza
I haven't finished the book yet. It goes into great detail and is very interestingPublished 5 months ago by hellfire
I will echo what another reviewer has mentioned. It's very helpful to know your history well before starting with this one. It's easy to get clogged up in the details. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Merideth Arterberry 2015