A most timely business narrative.



A well-written, comprehensible assessment of the 1929 stock-market crash.

Klein (The Life and Legend of E.H. Harriman, 2000, etc.) is a seasoned business historian, and he humanizes a potentially dry subject, capturing how the rapid post-WWI transformations affected both average Americans—who, as “minnows,” were seduced by the market—and the powerful cabals that ran “the Street.” Although the dark chaos of October 1929 provides the center here, Klein reconstructs the halcyon days preceding the crash, the ethos of greedy naïveté, which may have caused it, and its relationship to the worldwide depression that followed. He is adept at explaining complex business ideas (such as covert stock pools and the bearish tactic of “selling short,” both of which were factors in the crash) in terms that convey the gravity of what followed 1929’s “Summer of Fun.” He builds toward the climactic disaster via scrupulous readings of primary sources, and strengthens the milieu by depicting many of the era’s most significant industrial and cultural figures, such as Henry Ford and Aimee Semple McPherson, as well as the Street’s many gold-plated gurus, from Sunshine Charley Mitchell of the National City Bank to the famous stock-tipping bootblack Pat Bologna, some of whose shady tactics undeniably contributed to the final panic. Of the Great Crash itself, which began on Thursday, October 23, and continued through Tuesday, Klein notes that “the selling wave seemed irresistible . . . frightening holders into ‘selling at the market’ ” (at any price), while technology was overwhelmed by human fallibility, with stock tickers running over an hour late. Throughout, as Klein ruefully observes, one cannot miss the glaring similarities between Hoover’s pro-business “New Era” and our own recently hobbled, high-tech “new economy,” such as the irrational exuberance demonstrated in both eras by an uneducated investing public. Klein is an elegant (if detail-obsessed) constructor of business histories, and one can read dire warnings between the lines here.

A most timely business narrative.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2001

ISBN: 0-19-513516-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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