With insight and refreshing candor, Peter G. Peterson describes his remarkable life story beginning in Kearney, Nebraska as an eight-year-old manning the cash register at his father's Greek diner through his "Mad Men" advertising days, to Secretary of Commerce in Nixon's paranoid White House, to the tumultuous days of Lehman Brothers, and to the creation of The Blackstone Group, one of the great financial enterprises in recent times.
In THE EDUCATION OF AN AMERICAN DREAMER, Peterson chronicles the progress of this journey with irony, humor and, sometimes, painful honesty. Within these pages are stories of marriage and family hardship; lessons in political gamesmanship; thoughts on his obsessive desire to succeed; and, finally, learning the meaning of "enough." From his advertising days in Chicago in the 1950's to becoming the youngest CEO of a Fortune 300 Company, he shares with us his rise to the top and the price paid along the way. As the youngest Cabinet member in the Nixon administration, he describes his survival techniques in a hubris-driven and paranoid White House, including his turbulent turf wars with Treasury Secretary John Connally leading to Peterson's abrupt and highly publicized firing. His stewardship of Lehman Brothers is a Shakespearian tale of a CEO who struggled to deal with partners who were plotting his demise and, at the same time, turning an institution on the brink of bankruptcy to one with 5 straight years of record profits.
His life's story is about doing well by doing good. In the wake of Blackstone's highly successful public offering, Peterson found himself an 80-year old instant billionaire, on the verge of retirement. And like many lifetime workers and over-achievers, he suddenly confronts an unexpected, depressing identity crisis. His solution? Committing a great bulk of his net proceeds to establish the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, his philanthropic endeavor to do something about America's politically untouchable challenges that threaten America's future, among them massive entitlement obligations, ballooning health care costs, and our energy gluttony.
Ultimately, this is a man's account of his legendary successes, humiliating failures, and personal tragedies - a testament to a remarkable life and, indeed, to the American Dream itself.
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Peter G. Peterson lives in New York City with his wife Joan Ganz Cooney, a founder of the Sesame Workshop, and is the father of five children and grandfather of nine. His most recent book, Running On Empty, was a national bestseller. He is the Chairman Emeritus and co-founder of The Blackstone Group, Chairman Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and founding Chairman of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, founding President of The Concord Coalition, and retired Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He is also founding Chairman of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.Review:
"For years, Pete Peterson has performed with distinction on the world's stage-both in finance and public policy. But he still remains the same Nebraska boy who counted change in his father's café. His journey is a remarkable story and his book is an entertaining and refreshingly honest account of his education in business and life." (Warren Buffett)
The name Peter G. Peterson brings to one's mind the word success. From advertising to finance to politics, Peterson has proved to one and all that he has the ability and foresight to lead a generation of thinkers. His ability to say no to things that would tempt even the strongest of us, he has made choices in his life based on his own ideals and the ability to look forward. He is definitely not a man who lives for today only. He has always been a forward thinker, even today, as he wrote this work, he worries about what leaving a mess for our children and grandchildren .. . . This was a good read. It provided a good analyst of today's problem areas while telling the story of a young Nebraskan man who made his life one that everyone will find interesting and motivating. In today's economy, $34.99 is a hefty price to pay for elective reading. However, I will go as far as to say, 'It may be one of the best investments you make this year.' (The Midwest Book Review)
"Dire economic times have left many people wondering if the American dream is just a fairy tale. In his autobiography, The Education of an American Dreamer (Twelve, $34.99), Peter G. Peterson offers a refreshingly credible, often cautionary tale of his own classic rags-to-riches rise -- and a few glimmers of hope, inspiration and guidance for the rest of us . . . At 83, Mr. Peterson is a child of the Depression, but his resume puts most modern-day multitaskers to shame. He is a self-made billionaire and philanthropist as well as a former ad executive, manufacturing mogul, Wall Street financier and secretary of commerce. What distinguishes this book from most memoirs by business titans is Mr. Peterson's ability to mix insider tidbits with humor, painful self-revelation and candid skepticism of the Eastern establishment that eventually welcomed him as a tuxedo-wearing member . . . Mr. Peterson recounts his private life with self-effacing candor . . . Mr. Peterson may be among the last of a dying breed, but it is still uplifting to be reminded that the son of Greek immigrants made his American dream come true." (The New York TImes Harry Hurt III)
"When the memoir of an important person contains insightful information, large dollops of self-deprecation, some humor and clear writing, count that memoir unusual. The memoir of Peter G. Peterson,The Education of an American Dreamer, qualifies as unusual ." (USA Today)
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