“As a portrait of finance, politics, and the world of avarice and ambition on Wall Street, the book has the movement and tension of an epic novel. It is, quite simply, a tour de force.” The New York Times Book Review
The House of Morgan
An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance
978-0-8021-4465-2 • $22.00 • Paperback • Jan. 2010
The House of Morgan may be the most ambitious history ever written about an American banking dynasty. Like the best-sellers Ford and The Rockefellers, the book has the sweep of an epic novel as it traces the rise of the J. P. Morgan empire from its obscure beginnings in Victorian London up to the crash of 1987. It is a rich, panoramic story of four generations of Morgans and the powerful, secretive firms they spawnedJ. P. Morgan & Co. (Morgan Guaranty), Morgan Stanley, and Morgan Grenfell. Covering over 150 years in the banking and financial community, every boom and panic on Wall Street and in London’s City, The House of Morgan is a compelling and incisive account of the rise of the modern financial world.
Yet this fascinating chronicle is far more than just financial history. It evokes the social milieu of J. Pierpont Morgan, with his colossal art collection, numerous mistresses, and cruiser-sized yacht, and tells of his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr., who financed the Allies in World War I and waged a marathon feud with Franklin Roosevelt. Also prominent are the Morgan partners of the interwar periodTom Lamont, Dwight Morrow, and Russell Leffingwellwho hobnobbed with presidents and epitomized period glamour with their North Shore mansions and transatlantic cruises. There are revelations about many famous families (Du Ponts, Astors, Vanderbilts) and companies (U.S. Steel, AT&T, General Motors, Exxon), as well as dozens of startling disclosures about the bank’s dealings with the U.S. and British governments. The book is studded with new information about many historical figures, including Henry Ford, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Louis Brandeis, Nancy Astor, and Charles Lindbergh.
Based on extensive interviews and newly opened family and business archives, the book is an investigative tour de force, documenting Morgan intrigue with Mussolini, Japanese militarists, Mexican dictators, and Nazi finance ministers. It shows how, in the post-World War II period, Morgan firms evolved from the very model of gentlemanly propriety into pioneers of the aggressive new world of hostile takeovers, junk bonds, and LBOs. This final section follows the Morgan banks into Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil and describes the Morgans’ dealings with many famous contemporary figures, including Henry Ford II, Rupert Murdoch, Adnan Khashoggi, and Paul Volcker.
A compelling account of a remarkable institution and the men who ran it, The House of Morgan is a penetrating look at the real powerthe moneybehind the historical events, the eminent statesmen, and the industrial empires that have transformed the world in the last century and a half.