Bankers, philanthropists, scholars, socialites, artists, and politicians, the Warburgs stood at the pinnacle of German (and, later, of German-American) Jewry. They forged economic dynasties, built mansions and estates, assembled libraries, endowed charities, and advised a German kaiser and two American presidents. But their very success made the Warburgs lightning rods for anti-Semitism, and their sense of patriotism became increasingly dangerous in a Germany that had declared Jews the enemy.
Ron Chernow's hugely fascinating history is a group portrait of a clan whose members were renowned for their brilliance, culture, and personal energy yet tragically vulnerable to the dark and irrational currents of the twentieth century.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 2.00(d)|
About the Author
Date of Birth:March 3, 1949
Place of Birth:Brooklyn, NY
Education:Yale University; Cambridge University
Read an Excerpt
Jews settled as far north as the Rhineland after the Romans destroyed the Temple in A.D. 70. Far from feeling alien, these winegrowers and craftsmen felt rooted in Germanic soil. But their pastoral idyll was shattered by the religious zealotry of the eleventh century. Butchered by the Crusaders, they were expelled from their farms and forced into moneylending. During the Black Death, roving flagellants cursed the Jews for supposedly causing the bubonic plague by poisoning wells. They were also periodically accused of draining blood from Christian children to bake unleavened Passover bread-the so-called blood libel. Like dark, disturbing figures from a grim fairy tale, the Jews would secretly linger on in the German psyche as ghouls tricked out in civilian clothes. This legacy would lie dormant, but never dead, in the culture.
Excerpted from "The Warburgs"
Copyright © 2016 Ron Chernow.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Ron Chernow narrates with panache the riveting tribulations of the Warburgs, a prominent Jewish banking dynasty emerging in Germany in the sixteenth century. The author does an outstanding job in switching back and forth between the Alsterufer Warburgs and the Mittelweg Warburgs, the two rivaling branches of the Warburgs. Ron Chernow indeed vividly recasts the numerous actors of that saga against the economic, political and social backdrop of their time. The author brilliantly helps his readers understand the painful dilemma that many German Jews, keener and keener on assimilation into Germany, faced especially under the Weimar Republic and then under Nazism. Ron Chernow also underlines how several Warburgs emigrating outside Germany had a positive influence on the unfolding of some key domestic and overseas events. Ironically, M.M. Warburg & Co., the German cradle of the banking dynasty that Nazism and then internal infighting almost torpedoed with success, is the only one to remain independent today. M.M. Warburg & Co. is Germany¿s second largest private bank. S.G. Warburg is now part of Union Bank of Switzerland while Warburg Pincus, successor of E.M. Warburg, belongs to Credit Suisse.
Ron Chernow is the quintessential biographer and doesn't disappoint in The Warburgs. The push of the family's patriotism towards and long roots in Germany versus the pull and agonizing realization of growing anti-Semitism are brillantly brought to life. This is a fascinating and very interesting account of a talented and many faceted family that you won't want to miss. I find all of Chernow's books to be first rate with thorough research and a balanced account of the subject matter.
This biography of a family reads like one of those big, fat, family sagas they used to make miniseries out of . Its cast of "characters" is vast and every one of them is memorable. This is an engrossing read.
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