THE WARBURGS by Ron Chernow


The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family
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From the National Book Award-winning author of The House of Morgan (1990): an engrossing history of the Hamburg banking family that explores the love/hate relationship between Germany and its native-born Jews with as much interest as it recounts the lives of those who made Warburg a name to be reckoned with on both sides of the Atlantic. Drawing on unrestricted access to members of the extended family and their voluminous archives, Chernow offers a start-to- present chronicle. Tracing the line from the mid-16th century, he reviews how canon and secular law shunted the era's Jews into trade or moneylending. By 1773, however, the patriarch's descendants were able to settle in the thriving port of Hamburg, where they put down deep roots and established themselves as world-class bankers. In the meantime, the family tree developed branches whose scions competed as vigorously among themselves as with outsiders. Tracking the varied fortunes of Warburgs through Bismarck's Imperial Germany, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, and beyond, Chernow documents how intermarriage with Our Crowd's Loebs and Schiffs enabled the Warburgs to make their mark on Wall Street as well as in Europe. A notable case in point was Paul M. Warburg, a driving force behind the FRB's 1913 creation. In like vein, WW II drove Siegmund Warburg to London, where he became a postwar power in The City. Other Warburgs distinguished themselves in the arts, philanthropy, and government service, as well as in business, mingling with the likes of Balfour, Einstein, Gershwin, von Papen, FDR, Kaiser Wilhelm II, et al. In an outcome that affords his panoramic narrative an affecting measure of unity, Chernow details the transaction whereby a latter-day generation reclaimed the merchant bank where their own story began. A lively, definitive, and thoughtful account of a clan whose star has waxed as that of its Rothschild rivals has waned.
Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0679743596
Page count: 784pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1993


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