THE NEW GROWD: The Changing of the Jewish Guard on Wall Street by Judith Ramsey & Barry J. Rehfeld Ehrlich

THE NEW GROWD: The Changing of the Jewish Guard on Wall Street

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A gossipy, name-dropping rundown on the Jewish Wall Streeters who have made names and places for themselves over the past 40 years or so. In their well-reported survey, Ehrlich and Rehfeld assert that an identifiably new breed of Jewish go-getters has achieved influence as well as power in the financial community since the late 1940's. To a great extent, the authors contend, these brash, ambitious parvenus have achieved success at the expense of the German-Jewish families (Kuhns, Lehmans, Loebs, Salomons, et al.) known as Our Crowd and the so-called WASP elite. The anecdotal text's premise is at best arguable since, as Robert C. Christopher makes clear in Crashing the Gate (p. 429), neither the US nor its putative establishment has ever been as exclusionary as generally believed. At any rate, Ehrlich and Rehfeld make a generally good job of conveying what makes the more prominent newcomers run. They focus on three pace-setting standouts: John Gutfreund (CEO at Salomon Inc.); Felix Rohatyn (Vienna-born jack-of-all-trades who works out of Lazard Fr‚res & Co.); and Sanford I. (Sandy) Weill (builder of what's now Shearson Lehman Hutton Inc.). Covered as well are the upwardly mobile likes of: Peter Cohen (Weill's erstwhile lieutenant); lawyer Joseph Flom; Alan C. (Ace) Greenberg (top gun at Bear, Steams & Co.); raider Carl Icahn; LBO specialist Henry Kravis; greenmailer Saul Steinberg; and merger/acquisition strategist Bruce Wasserstein. While most of the notables singled out here are ethical, if opportunistic, a few have run afoul of securities and/or tax law. Cases in point include arbitrageur Ivan Boesky, junk-bond king Michael Milken, and dealmaker Martin Siegel. Nor do Ehrlich and Rehfeld shy from dishing dirt about white-hat wearers. To illustrate, they leave little doubt that Gutfreund probably made some key business decisions with an eye to getting himself enough money to underwrite the world-class shopping sprees of his young second wife (who's relentlessly described as an ex-airline stewardess). In brief, then, an ethnocentric variation on an ever-fascinating theme--life styles of the rich and famous.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1989
Publisher: Little, Brown