The French Rothschilds: The Great Banking Dynasty Through Two Turbulent Centuries

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9780517592298: The French Rothschilds: The Great Banking Dynasty Through Two Turbulent Centuries
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An award-winning biographer's penetrating portrait of the most glamorous branch of the international family, the one that came to prominence under Napoleon, and has ever since been locked in a turbulent relationship with that country. Of the many books written about the Rothschilds, this is the first to focus so closely on the French branch--perhaps the most fascinating side of this astonishing family. 8-page black-and-white inserts.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Lottman, until now primarily a literary biographer with books on Camus, Flaubert and Colette, widens his focus here to embrace a huge subject over a colossal time span: the banking family, originating in a Frankfurt ghetto, that came to great financial power in Napoleonic France and has retained it through extraordinary vicissitudes to the present day. The Rothschilds, Lottman shows, were politically canny, utterly trustworthy, remarkably clannish (it was unthinkable, during their first century, for them to marry outside the family, let alone outside the Jewish faith) and successful in dozens of endeavors beyond banking, from railroads to horse racing to winemaking in several countries including England, the United States and Israel. Several times their adopted France turned against them. They were calumniated by a fiercely anti-Semitic press in the late 19th century (watching aghast as the Dreyfus case became a national scandal). Anticapitalist Communist threats shadowed them in the Popular Front period of the 1930s. The Nazis and the Vichy government competed to see who could seize their wealth and artistic treasures, while the family scattered around the world, to London and New York City. A Socialist French government in 1981 again nationalized the Rothschilds' holdings, and only in recent years have the original family's many offspring come to terms with a still vigorous but shrunken empire. Lottman tells all this with an abundance of detail, a keen sense of period and an awesome grasp of the family's many personages and complex financial structure. If his story lacks the enlivening, humanizing anecdote, this can probably be blamed on his reticent subjects.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

Lottman has previously chronicled the lives of Camus, Flaubert, Colette, and Petain. Here his richly detailed profile of six generations of the Rothschild family shows why that name is synonymous with banking, power, and wealth. A number of books about the Rothschilds have already been written, but Lottman's is unique because it brings us up to date and concentrates on the French branch of the dynasty that Mayer Amschel Rothschild, of Frankfurt, Germany, and his five sons built. Sadly, the story of the Rothschilds is also a story of 200 years of anti-Semitism--from Napoleon's rigid centralization of Jewish institutions to the innuendos of French right-wing extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen. Lottman also documents the threats and assaults from the Nazis during the Pe{‚}tain regime in Vichy, France. He goes on to describe a later change in political winds that brought a different kind of attack as Mitterand's Socialists nationalized Rothschild bank holdings. Lottman concludes with last year's gathering of Rothschilds in Frankfurt to celebrate the two hundred fiftieth birthday of Mayer Amschel. David Rouse

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