Henry Goldman, Goldman Sachs, and the Founding of Wall Street
Email this review


Henry Goldman’s granddaughter looks at his Wall Street accomplishments and his family life.

Of German Jewish heritage, Goldman wanted for little after his parents settled in the United States and combined with the similarly situated Sachs family to enter the investment-banking industry. Today the two families play little role in the influential investment bank at the center of so much recent controversy. Fisher does not stretch to offer contemporary relevance, other than noting that Wall Street has ridden out booms and busts before, some of them during her grandfather’s tenure. The author offers superficial anecdotes that suggest her grandfather was a financial genius whose backing led to the growth of not only Goldman Sachs, but also many corporations he backed, including Sears, Roebuck and Co., F.W. Woolworth, May Department Stores and the Studebaker Corporation. Frequently shifting her focus from the investment-banking realm, Fisher explores the souring of the social relationships between the Goldman and Sachs families, her grandfather’s acquisition of world-class art, his friendship with Albert Einstein and his financing of the career of child-prodigy violinist Yehudi Menuhin. Goldman found it difficult to let go of much of the conventional wisdom of the day, such as the support of the gold standard as the basis for the world economy; defense of the German state despite its predations before, during and after World War I; and the denial of virulent anti-Semitism around the globe. Goldman believed in tirelessly creating wealth for himself and his favored clients and would repeat the phrase, “Money is always in fashion.” At times the book reads more like a family album rather than a history of Wall Street.

A low-key, meandering memoir about an admired grandfather.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-230-61750-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2010