The Warburgs: The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family

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9780679743590: The Warburgs: The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family

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.

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Review:

All three of Ron Chernow's books are lengthy and solidly researched, but his background as a journalist shows in his ability here to convey complex material in terms of vivid characters and a well-defined theme. As in his National Book Award-winning business history (The House of Morgan) and his comprehensive biography of John D. Rockefeller (Titan), in The Warburgs Chernow employs marvelously detailed material to trace a single overarching story: the riveting and ultimately tragic odyssey of German Jews. The Warburgs were Hamburg's preeminent banking family from the 18th century until Hitler's Third Reich forced them to hand over their business to Aryans in 1938. But they also boasted among their family members a celebrated art historian (Aby Warburg), a Nobel Prize-winning scientist (Otto Warburg), and the financial angel of the New York City Ballet (Edward Warburg). Two of the "Famous Five" brothers married American women at the turn of the 20th century and became honored members of the Wall Street establishment, so Chernow's lively narrative imparts important U.S. social and economic history as well. But don't let all those fancy credentials intimidate you: The Warburgs features enough flamboyant personalities and high-class gossip to make this as entertaining a read as the latest issue of People magazine. --Wendy Smith

From the Back Cover:

"Splendid.... Chernow does a wonderful job fleshing out the lives of the major characters in this family drama."

-- Wall Street Journal

"[Ron Chernow] has surpassed himself in this absorbing chronicle."

-- The New Yorker

"This is grand-scale scholarship .... It is all here, along with so much of the painful, tumultuous history of our time, all in one splendid book."

-- David McCullough, author of Truman

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