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Wriston: Walter Wriston, Citibank, and the Rise and Fall of American Financial Supremacy Hardcover – March 26, 1996

3.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The son of a famous Midwestern academic, Wriston stumbled into the banking business shortly after returning from WWII, when he joined First National City in Manhattan. He was a major force in transforming not only National City but the entire American banking industry, from a heavily regulated, tradition-bound field into an aggressive player in international markets. A staunch believer in free markets, technology and overseas lending, Wriston oversaw the growth of National City into the first bank holding company, Citicorp, which has interests in a variety of financial areas. During his career, capped by a 17-year reign as CEO, there was virtually nothing that occurred in the world of banking?ranging from the bailouts of Mexico and New York City to the spread of banking deregulation and the use of credit cards?that Wriston and Citibank were not heavily involved with. Zweig (Bellyup: The Collapse of the Penn Square Bank) artfully blends Wriston's personal and business lives, along with the American banking scene in the 1940s through the mid-1980s, into a compelling story. Although there is more detail here about banking practices than the casual reader will care to know, this is an absorbing biography of one of the most influential men in recent banking history. Wriston and his family and friends were among Zweig's hundreds of sources.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Walter Wriston may not be known to the average person, but he has had a profound impact on American life. He headed Citibank, which pioneered many financial practices?e.g., automated teller machines (ATMs), certificates of deposit (CDs), and a wider availability of credit cards?that we take for granted today. Zweig (Belly Up: The Collapse of Penn Square Bank, 1984. o.p.) has written an exhaustive, overlong account of Wriston's life as well as a chronicle of the forces at work in the United States that would enable Citibank to become the largest and most powerful American bank in the world. The book also shows that the recent spate of banking consolidation and mergers was set in motion largely by what Wriston accomplished. While Citibank has been the subject of previous books (notably Richard B. Miller's Citicorp: The Story of a Bank in Crisis, LJ 4/15/93), this work is just about as authoritative and satisfying as one could hope for. Recommended for larger business collections.?Richard Drezen, Washington Post News Research Ctr., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 952 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1st. ed edition (March 26, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517584239
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517584231
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,047,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Yes -- the book IS long and sometimes excruciatingly painful in detail, but it presents material from the mid-1800's to 1990s. Most emphasis is 1960s-1980s. So, give yourself a lot of leadtime!

If you want a book for its perspective on a parcel of American History, its a great educational tool to understand the evolution of Banking, particularly Post-WWII Fed policies, Glass-Stegall,the battle for laissez-faire regulation, and related internal management challenges to business development. But if you want a book that gives current insights or reads like promotional materials from Goldman Sach's "The Culture of Success" and "House of Morgan", its downright uninspiring and lacks any heart-pounding climax like a biography or fiction.

The writer's large volume of work is matched by his understanding of management and banking jargon and issues. For instance, he understands matrix'ed management structures, credit approval processes, and reasons for organizational resistance to external consultants like McKinsey. He also avoids protraying, as model-citizens or perfect CEOs, Wriston or Reed, who probably gave their cooperation to the book. One could argue that his version of root causes to problems like Penn Central or CREI were incorrect, but equally, one would agree that his facts were mostly complete.

His style of writing is better than recent books such as Enron's "Smartest Guys in the Room" and others which are written by magazine/newspaper journalists -- which read like an extended articles. However, he does succumb to problems in overlapping info that seem redundant at times -- probably needed more cross-chapter-reference editing.

In summary, I'm buying this book for that part on my book shelf covering American History.
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Format: Hardcover
This ponderous tome provides is a lengthy assemblage of facts about Wriston, but fails to offer very much in the way of insight or analysis.
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Format: Hardcover
I doubt that few, if any, will read this review, but I'm putting it out because this is a very good, very interesting book for anyone interested in banking, finance, the economy, and related topics. The main topic is the career of Walter Wriston, who started in the banking field in the 1940's and retired in 1984 as the CEO of Citibank. The book was published in 1996, so don't expect up-to-the-minute coverage, but for the timeframe it covers, it does an excellent job. I was born in 1955 and graduated from high school in 1973, and this book gives the backstory on many things that I heard about or read about, but didn't really understand, or understand the significance of the event. Nixon taking the United States off gold in 1971, the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980's, the real estate crash in the 1990's, are just some of the topics discussed. The book also gives a broad overview of how banking changed from the 1930's through the mid-90's. Things that we take for granted today, such as the ATM, market-rate CD's, and many other financial products had to be pioneered by someone, and more often than not, it was Citibank and Walter Wriston behind the effort. This book could hold up well just on the financial aspect, but you also get a lot of history in general, since so many newsworthy events generated financial difficulties, so in this book you get a great combination of financial history and general history at the same time. It took me a long time to get around to reading this book, but I'm glad I did. Don't let the fact that it is a few years old put you off reading it, like I said at the beginning of the review, if you are the least bit interested in banking and finance, this is a fine book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book explains interest rates. This book talks about deposits.
This book should be read by people interested in banking rules.
The date of this review is April 2012. Citi bank stock got to $1.00 a share
within the last year or so.The stock now is in the 20's after a reverse split. Now
for every 10 shares you had you now have one share. I am going to shop for a more upto date book on Citi. I am not sure of how much bailout money Citi received from the government.
This bank now has new management.
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