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ALL THE PRESIDENTS' BANKERS

THE HIDDEN ALLIANCES THAT DRIVE AMERICAN POWER

A dense but worthy effort to explain how the economy went off the rails in recent years—and how we ended up in that...

A revealing look at the often symbiotic, sometimes-adversarial relationship between the White House and Wall Street.

When it comes to the tactics of modern bankers, former Wall Street insider–turned-journalist Prins (It Takes a Pillage: An Epic Tale of Power, Deceit, and Untold Trillions, 2009, etc.) makes her disapproval known in no uncertain terms; their predecessors fare only slightly better in this sweeping history of bank presidents and their relationships with the nation’s chief executives. The narrative begins circa 1900, when bankers began to supersede industrial tycoons as the nation’s most powerful private-sector prime movers. Financial titans like J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller figure prominently, along with lesser-known but equally important men like Winthrop Aldrich and Thomas Lamont, as they navigate the treacherous terrain of World War I and the 1929 crash, both butting heads with and coming to the aid of presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Herbert Hoover. As Prins writes, ties proved strongest during wartime, with banks working alongside politicians to sell bonds and bolster the finances of U.S. allies. As the 20th century rolled on, however, power shifted north from Washington to New York, where deregulation and globalization created opportunities for bankers to create complex financial products that neither the public nor they themselves seemed to fully understand, which led to a series of market collapses and global recessions. Even wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been enough to galvanize the banking industry as prior wars did. At times, the author talks over the heads of a general audience, and her anti-banker bias, even if it’s largely justified, cries out for some balancing commentary. Still, this is a valuable contribution to a growing body of books trying to make sense of an increasingly complicated financial world. The glossary of financial terms will prove helpful for general readers.

A dense but worthy effort to explain how the economy went off the rails in recent years—and how we ended up in that situation in the first place.

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-56858-749-3

Page Count: 554

Publisher: Nation Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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