Book Review: Genealogy of American Finance

December 31, 2015

Book Review: Genealogy of American Finance

Reviewed for EH.Net by Daniel Giedeman, Department of Economics, Grand Valley State University

I will admit that when I first received my copy of Robert Wright and Richard Sylla’s Genealogy of American Finance I was not exactly certain what to make of it. For one thing the book, published in conjunction with the Museum of American Finance, appeared as though it could be a coffee-table book: it was large and contained pictures — glossy pictures, in fact, and many of them. But the book also contained many scholarly references and was written by two very well-respected economic historians, so it was clearly going to be a serious work.

As it turns out, what Wright (Nef Family Chair of Political Economy at Augustana College and Director of the Thomas Willing Institute for the Study of Financial Markets, Institutions, and Regulations) and Sylla (Henry Kaufman Professor of the History of Financial Institutions and Markets and Professor of Economics at the Stern School of Business, New York University; and Chairman of the Museum of American Finance) have written is a fascinating compilation of the genealogical histories of the fifty largest financial institutions in the United States...

...In summary, Wright and Sylla have put together an interesting compilation of large financial institutions’ genealogies. Their book is clearly written and enjoyable to read. I expect that all readers will learn something new from the book and that the vast majority of readers will learn quite a bit. I recommend it with enthusiasm and no qualms.


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