The definitive look at Wall Street in the 19th Century
Perhaps the 19th century's best book on Wall Street, Fifty Years in Wall Street provides a fascinating look at the financial markets during a period of rapid economic expansion. Henry Clews was a giant figure in finance at that time, and his firsthand account brings this colorful era to life like never before. He reveals shocking stories of political and economic manipulation and how he helped bring down the mighty Boss Tweed. He writes eloquently about the madness of the markets and how the era's greatest speculators amassed their fortunes. This book provides an expansive view of Wall Street in an era of little regulation, rampant political corruption, and rapid financial change.
Henry Clews was born in England in 1836 and emigrated to the United States in 1850. In 1859, he cofounded what became the second largest marketer of federal bonds during the Civil War. Later, he organized the "Committee of 70," which deposed the corrupt Tweed Ring in New York City, and served as an economic consultant to President Ulysses Grant.
©2006 Henry Clews (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
This author had an amazing ringside seat (and often, very important participation) in decades of Washington and Wall Street events of the latter 1800s. It helps to have some knowledge of the overall history and characters (from General/President Grant to Cooke, Gould, etc.). I greatly enjoy the older language style. Many events are described, in the fashion of the time, by reference to classical, Biblical, or Shakespearean scenes. But what emerges most pleasingly to me are the many stretches of tongue-in-cheek, satirical description, so wonderfully sheathed and understated. The true but often hidden intentions and aims of the characters are thus wittily and a little caustically displayed. I only wish this included the full length of the original, I am told was over 1,000 pages in length. A vivid sample: the author is in Washington as the Civil War looms, helping its financing, and sees massive shipments of cannons rolling by, realizing this will be a long difficult struggle. This, in turn, affects his own choices in the markets, and advice to the parties he owes it to. Many a character is introduced with just enough anecdotal detail to bring the person to life, and many capsule biographies are presented. But the story moves along well.
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