High Financier: Book summary and reviews of High Financier by Niall Ferguson

High Financier

The Lives and Times of Siegmund Warburg

By Niall Ferguson

High Financier
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2010,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

"Success from the financial and from the prestige point of view ... is not enough; what matters even more is ... adherence to high moral and aesthetic standards." -Siegmund Warburg, 1959

In this pathbreaking new biography, based on more than ten thousand hitherto unavailable letters and diary entries, bestselling author Niall Ferguson returns to his roots as a financial historian to tell the story of Siegmund Warburg, an extraordinary man whose austere philosophy of finance offers much insight today.

A refugee from Hitler's Germany, Warburg rose to become the dominant figure in postwar City of London and one of the architects of European financial integration. Seared by the near collapse and then "Aryanization" of his family's long-established bank in the 1930s and then frustrated by the stagnation of its Wall Street sister, Kuhn Loeb, in the 1950s, Warburg resolved that his own firm of S. G. Warburg (founded in 1946) would be different.

An obsessive perfectionist with an aversion to excessive risk, Warburg came to embody the ideals of the haute banquet - high finance - always eschewing the fast buck in favor of gilt-edged advice. He was not only the master of the modern merger and founder of the eurobond; he was also a key behind-the-scenes adviser to governments in London, Tokyo, and Jerusalem - to his critics, a "financial Rasputin." Like a character from a Thomas Mann novel, Warburg was a complex and ambivalent man, as much a psychologist, politician, and actor-manager as he was a banker. In High Financier Niall Ferguson shares the first book-length examination of a man whose life and work suggest an alternative to the troubled business principles that helped shape our current financial landscape.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Readable, accessible and not a little nostalgic." - Kirkus Reviews

"Starred Review. Ferguson has written a most engrossing and edifying tale of high finance. Readers interested in financial and general 20th-century British history will find much of value here. Highly recommended." - Library Journal

"The view from Warburg’s lofty perch doesn’t make for a discerning perspective on the world around him." - Publishers Weekly

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Author Information

Niall Ferguson Author Biography

Niall Ferguson MA, D.Phil., is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Born in Glasgow in 1964, he graduated with First Class Honors from Magdalen College, Oxford. His books include The Pity of War, The House of Rothschild, The Cash Nexus, Empire and Colossus .

A prolific commentator on contemporary politics and economics, Ferguson writes and reviews regularly for the British and American press. He is a contributing editor for the Financial Times and a regular contributor to Newsweek. In 2004, Time named him as one of the world’s hundred ...

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