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Financier: The Biography of Andre Meyer: A Story of Money, Power, and the Reshaping of American Business (Trailblazers) [Paperback]

Cary Reich
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Book Description

9 Feb 1998 Trailblazers (Book 3)
"A first–rate biography of an extraordinary man." ––Andrew Tobias. David Rockefeller once deemed André Meyer "the most creative financial genius of our time in the investment banking world." André Meyer was also known as "The Picasso of Banking" and "The Incomparable Investor," but probably his most notable achievement was his ability to completely and single–handedly revitalize American business after World War II. Cary Reich presents an illuminating portrait of this ferociously energetic, charming, and ruthless businessman who was a trusted advisor of the Kennedys and an intimate of William Paley and Katherine Graham. Reich goes into detail about Meyer′s immigration from Nazi–occupied France, his prowess on the Monopoly board of business, and some of Meyer′s lasting business legacies––now household names––including Avis and Holiday Inn. ∗ Includes a new foreword by Cary Reich. Cary Reich (New York, New York) is the former executive editor of Institutional Investor. His most recent book, The Life of Nelson A. Rockefeller, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Mr. Reich is the recipient of numerous journalism awards, including the Overseas Press Award and the John Hancock Award for Excellence in Business and Financial Journalism.

Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (9 Feb 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471247413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471247418
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,175,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the Inside Flap

Fortune magazine deemed him "the most important investment banker in the Western world." A ferociously energetic, charming, and ruthless businessman, he had, by the age of forty, helped save the foundering auto giant Citroën, established France′s first consumer finance company, and been awarded the Legion of Honor. He was a trusted adviser of the Kennedys and an intimate of Lyndon Johnson, William Paley, and Katharine Graham. His numerous business accomplishments included the building or revitalizing of such corporate giants as Avis, Holiday inns, Warner–Lambert, and Engelhard Minerals & Chemicals. One of the world′s savviest individual investors, he amassed a personal fortune of well over $200 million, yet to his dying day never gave up the search for the ultimate buck. André Meyer, "The Picasso of Banking," was all this–and much more. A man of seemingly endless contradictions, he was respected and admired by many, scorned and disliked by many others. In this riveting, classic biography, renowned author and National Book Award finalist Cary Reich skillfully captures the many facets of this colorful and complex figure, painting an illuminating and captivating portrait of an enigmatic icon who climbed his way from modest beginnings to become what David Rockefeller called "the most creative financial genius of our time in the investment banking world." Born in 1898 in Paris, André Benoit Mathieu Meyer was saddled with adult responsibilities early on, having to provide for his family when his father, an inveterate gambler, "left a vacuum at the head of the household." After getting his professional start at a small Paris bank, he quickly caught the attention of the eminent private banking firm Lazard Frères, whose prestigious ranks he joined in 1925. Within a year, Meyer was made partner. With the advent of World War II, Meyer was forced into exile by the Nazi occupation. Resettling in the United States, he took over Lazard′s New York operation, building it into the most venturesome investment bank in America. During the 1940s and 1950s, when industry was thirsting for capital for its relentless growth, he financed anything and everything from Texas ranchland to New York City real–estate projects. In the sixties, when it became clear the big corporations could get bigger only by gobbling up other corporations, Meyer masterfully got the merger–and–acquisition ball rolling, and became the world′s most prolific marriage broker for countless corporate combinations. Financier brilliantly captures Meyer′s financial wizardry, a phenomenal talent that was tempered only by the volatile tantrums, ruthlessness, and insatiable greed that went hand in hand with his genius. Unveiling the dueling sides of his complex personality, this absorbing account shows Meyer at his best–as a father figure for the likes of Felix Rohatyn, his most famous protégé, and for Jacqueline Onassis in the years after the assassination–and presents him at his worst–as a tortured and possessive father and a cruel, often vindictive boss. Financier is a work that is as compelling, unforgettable, and monumental as its inimitable subject.

From the Back Cover

Fortune magazine deemed him "the most important investment banker in the Western world." A ferociously energetic, charming, and ruthless businessman, he had, by the age of forty, helped save the foundering auto giant Citroën, established France′s first consumer finance company, and been awarded the Legion of Honor. He was a trusted adviser of the Kennedys and an intimate of Lyndon Johnson, William Paley, and Katharine Graham. His numerous business accomplishments included the building or revitalizing of such corporate giants as Avis, Holiday Inns, Warner–Lambert, and Engelhard Minerals & Chemicals. One of the world′s savviest individual investors, he amassed a personal fortune of well over $200 million, yet to his dying day never gave up the search for the ultimate buck. André Meyer, "The Picasso of Banking," was all this––and much more. A man of seemingly endless contradictions, he was respected and admired by many, scorned and disliked by many others. In this riveting, classic biography, renowned author and National Book Award finalist Cary Reich skillfully captures the many facets of this colorful and complex figure, painting an illuminating and captivating portrait of an enigmatic icon who climbed his way from modest beginnings to become what David Rockefeller called "the most creative financial genius of our time in the investment banking world." Born in 1898 in Paris, André Benoit Mathieu Meyer was saddled with adult responsibilities early on, having to provide for his family when his father, an inveterate gambler, "left a vacuum at the head of the household." After getting his professional start at a small Paris bank, he quickly caught the attention of the eminent private banking firm Lazard Fréres, whose prestigious ranks he joined in 1925. Within a year, Meyer was made partner. With the advent of World War II, Meyer was forced into exile by the Nazi occupation. Resettling in the United States, he took over Lazard′s New York operation, building it into the most venturesome investment bank in America. During the 1940s and 1950s, when industry was thirsting for capital for its relentless growth, he financed anything and everything from Texas ranchland to New York City real–estate projects. In the sixties, when it became clear the big corporations could get bigger only by gobbling up other corporations, Meyer masterfully got the merger–and–acquisition ball rolling, and became the world′s most prolific marriage broker for countless corporate combinations. Financier brilliantly captures Meyer′s financial wizardry, a phenomenal talent that was tempered only by the volatile tantrums, ruthlessness, and insatiable greed that went hand in hand with his genius. Unveiling the dueling sides of his complex personality, this absorbing account shows Meyer at his best––as a father figure for the likes of Felix Rohatyn, his most famous protégé, and for Jacqueline Onassis in the years after the assassination––and presents him at his worst––as a tortured and possessive father and a cruel, often vindictive boss. Financier is a work that is as compelling, unforgettable, and monumental as its inimitable subject. Railblazers Rediscovering the Pioneers of Business Critical praise for Financier: The Biography of André Meyer "A first–rate biography of an extraordinary man." ––Andrew Tobias "A fascinating mix of financial history involving household names of the corporate scene, gossip at rarefied altitudes and big bucks. The focus is on people, mutual back–scratching, wheeling and dealing through the conglomerate jungle." ––The Wall Street Journal. "This book is fun to read. Mr. Reich, while prudently avoiding heavy legal and accounting exegesis, has a talent for the clear explanation of essential technical detail." ––New York Times Book Review. "Hard–edged and uncompromising . . . a lucid and well–researched account." ––The New Republic.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
On May 23, 1969, the gates of the Federal House of Correction in Danbury, Connecticut, swung open, and out into the sunshine walked forty-seven-year-old Edward Gilbert. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 28 May 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Simply the best book on investment banking ever written. Do not be put off by the boring cover and the historical distance from the subject: Andre Meyer makes most of the current crop of Wall Street leaders look like amateurs. His stunning life story, brought dazzlingly to life by Cary Reich, is truly an inspiration for all those fighting in the dismal bureaucratic and politicised trenches of the modern investment bank.
Right up there with 'Liar's Poker' and 'The Predator's Ball', the key difference is that these were books that were ultimately stories of explosive hubris and nemesis unfolding in quite a short period. 'Financier', by contrast, is the tale of one man's triumphant mission to acquire wealth and build an organisation over a lifetime. As the era of the instant buck fades, this is truly a story for our times. Unforgettable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You should buy this book if: 30 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
1) If you've ever thought about going into the investment banking/ Venture Capital business 2) If you enjoy history - of any type 3) If you enjoy well-written books that are more than a dry summation of the "agreed upon" facts 4) if you want a book that is more interesting and has more plots and schemes than any detective/spy thriller
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book that details the the "Old Boys" Network 2 July 2004
By Derek Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Overall this book provided great historical details into the mind of one of Investment Bankings greatest personalities. Andre Meyer's networking skills were 90% responsible for his success with the remaining 10% being attributable to his sheer tenacity.
The book does drag in some spots, but the author definitely did his homework.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anybody interested in IB 25 July 2007
By A. Mongrut - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Andre Meyer is the ephytome of the investment banker, like J.P. Morgan or Sidney Weinberg before and Felix Rohatyn around the same time, Andre Meyer embodied what many aspiring bankers use to idealize when picking that career. He was the master of Relational Banking, which is now reemerging as the way to go for top tier brokerage and banking houses. Although, not a husband or father role model the details about his personal life are very interesting to read too.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Story about Lazard 13 Mar 2006
By James Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book should be required reading for all employees of Lazard. As an employee I found this book very informative and useful in understanding my firm culture and history. The book is well written, and full of interesting trivia about Lazard and Andre Meyer.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read with facinating mix of famous characters 17 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A great read with a facinating mix of famous characters ranging from fiancial world to the political world from the 1940s to the 1970s. The book offers great gossip about New York society as well as the wheeling and dealings of the M&A world. Mr. Meyer is portrayed as a strong, determined and respected man who was certainly not saint but the author offers a truthful perspective. The book is a easy read, and focuses on Meyer's business and personal relationships rather than heavy finacial jargon. It's a great read, I couldn't put it down.
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