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Showing 1-10 of 161 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 241 reviews
on April 13, 2016
That was the word from John Pierpont Morgan in the summer of 1873 prior to the panic of 1873 caused by the failure of Jay Cooke.Would they have continued to earn 6% through this panic?Doubtful.It is important that I put aside any personal differences with this gentleman in considering that we will probably never see somebody like this ever again in world business history.He spawned something that continues in some form to this very day. The reasons are as simple as such business is complex.Everything from regulation to even restrictive zoning wouldn't allow it.He didn't partake of business practices which would be considered "arms length" that would evolve into conflicts of interest.He wasn't just a money lender.He would take a business interest that most banks would have to shy away from today.He also did good things for the industry.He became the lender of last resort where a central bank did not exist at the time.He rescued banks and even bailed out New York City more than once.Remarkably,he made it look easy.This book begins with his father and George Peabody and ends with the move from the corner of Wall & Broad Streets to 60 Wall Street.I myself would be interested in what the author could write about into the present day.He uses an academic template as these stories have been told and retold over the generations.He has updated some of them because at the time when some of this occurred,we wouldn't have been privy to the details,some bordering on gossip in that society.A crash?We'd find out soon enough.An affair?Why would we ever have to know at the time.Congressional hearings?It a matter of public record.Glass Steagle?It's the law of the land till repealed. Shelf registration?A new business complexion.Big Bang and so forth.Banking had certainly changed from the late 19th century to now.By the time of the Reagan/Bush Revolution it was purely fee driven.This was actually a turn around from the way J.P. Morgan did his business before he died.This book will fill you in on all the people,places,and things.Our collective business memory is one thing,but alas,it's not practical to think that John Pierpont Morgan could be immortal.
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on January 2, 2014
I enjoyed the history that escapes from the endless minutiae. I'm continually surprised by how much I don't know about the 1850s to the 1920s in the US, so that was a nice aspect of the book. However, the level of detail is crushing in many cases. Moreover, elements that have been explained once before are often explained again (and sometimes yet again). I think that Mr. Chernow could have used stronger editor. 300 pages could have been shaved from the book which would have made it stronger and probably more widely read, as well.

I've not read anything else by Ron Chernow, so I was not sure what to expect. If this is typical, I probably won't read anything else by him, either. Though I doubt he'd be very upset about that. =8-)
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on June 11, 2017
Listening to the Audible unabridged version. Chernow might be accused of hagiography -- at the very least, he is much too ready to take the word of his subjects for what motivated their actions. I have no doubt Pierpont, Jack, and the Morgan partners considered themselves enlightened benefactors of humanity. However, Chernow doesn't provide me a compelling reason to agree with them. For comparison, read the descriptions of same events by, say, Ferdinand Lundberg. One thing this book excels at, though, is identifying the players and their connections. Lots of interesting research could begin with this outline of events.
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on September 10, 2016
Chernow is on of my favorite authors because he tackles complex financial subjects and makes them accessible to ordinary readers. The HOUSE OF MORGAN is a truly monumental undertaking. Chernow writes with his usual clarity and grace. Unfortunately, too much of the book is consumed with details of the personal lives of the prominent executives. While these are interesting they contribute little to illuminating the forces that reshaped the great banks from underwriters into financial buccaneers who laid waste to what had been a kind of operational and even ethical code stabilizing the world investing and building economies.

In the work of a lesser author this would be less important. Given Chernow's talents, however, this is most disappointing.
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on August 8, 2017
Chernow's book is good for the sweeping overview that it is. It left me wondering, though, what is the story behind the story. The Morgan partners continually are painted in too favorable a light by Chernow. I'd like to know more about how Morgans not only used the "old boy" network to their advantage, but really created and controlled the core of that network for decades. Morgans had its fingers in *everything* at the previous turn of the century. But I have the feeling that it wasn't simply due to the Morgan partners simply being upright bankers!
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on June 12, 2016
I am more than half way done, love the book so far. I would have really liked to see the author discuss the banks ties to the Zodiac club in more detail, the connection with Skull and Bones was just barely touched- many readers will not even notice this and not really know what this club is. The relationship with Rothchild's was something I believed was much closer since they were at Jykll Island planning the Federal Reserve- J.P. Morgan and Paul Warburg. But in the book we are told J.P. Does not work with Jews and does not want anything to with the Rothchild Bank. It does not mesh in my mind. Maybe the author is correct, maybe J.P. Morgan wants to throw us off his track?
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on August 10, 2017
The book is fascinating and has aged well (written ±30 years ago!). The parts that cover the 19th century through about world war II are fascinating and unmissable. The latter parts towards the end of the book, seem to be written out of necessity because the book had to cover the whole history of the bank. I believe a later more experience Chernow would have had the wisdom to stop earlier and make a more compact book.
As it stands, the good parts are great, for their context about how massively powerful Morgan was, and the beautiful historical anecdotes included.
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on June 23, 2017
“Fascinating economic history of Wall Street.” “I felt the richness of the subject empowered with details.” “This book reinforced the importance of adapting to the environment and executing the right strategy.” – Graduate student comments. The House of Morgan was used as a required text in the graduate Design Management program at the Shintaro Akatsu School of Design at the University of Bridgeport
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on December 5, 2012
If there is one word to describe Ron Chernow's The House of Morgan, that word is "long". Seriously, the book could have been chopped into about 4 books. The idea of a Greek epic comes to mind, the Odyssey, one adventure after the other. It took me two months to digest it, Chernow's book. If there was one section that could have been significantly shortened, it is the section from the 1950s to the 1980s.

But like the Odyssey, to Chernow's credit, he constantly ties the different eras of the House of Morgan together, around the culture of Pierpont Morgan. The House of Morgan stood for being the most upright, beyond criticism, and the highest quality and most powerful and loyal to their old time customers. And then we see how the offshoots of his original company stray, especially during the merger and leveraged buy out (LBO) mania of the 1980s.

The weakness of the book is that in trying to cover 150 years of Morgan, it has to cover 150 years of the financial history of the United States as well as that of Europe, to some degree. Additionally, I found the rehashing of the go-go merger mania 1980s for the umteenth time uninteresting... but in the context of now knowing how the firm had gotten there, interesting. It seems like just yesterday Ivan Boesky and Michael Milliken were in the news.

Interestingly, and it is very helpful to keep this in mind throughout the whole book, the book was written just after the financial crash on 1987. The book appears to be an attempt by Chernow to offer a context for how the 1987 crash occurred...greed. Many times he mentions how the US economy and many individual companies and people that worked at those companies were severely damaged by the leveraged buyouts that enriched the bankers, and impoverished everyone else. Chernow also makes clear that the financial shenanigans we still see today is just more of the same garbage that has been tolerated to everyone's detriment at least since the time of JP Morgan and almost certainly before.

Curiously, at the time of his research, about 1988-1989, Chernow mentions in the credits section, both JP Morgan and Morgan Grenfell opened their firms' archives and personnel to the author, perhaps in an attempt to show how worthy their firms had been in the past and come clean of their recent behavior...yet Morgan Stanley totally shut the author out.
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on January 4, 2016
I must admire Chernow's resolve to research his subjects so thoroughly. This was my second go-around after Titan. These books have tremendous value as insight into the times and thoughts of the world's first Corporate Titans. However, both books, but this one in particular is tremendously difficult to read. I find myself labouring through each chapter, midway through and not enjoying the experience. I look back and have learned a great deal, but it was an incredible pain to get there.
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