by Niall Ferguson
"Success from the financial and from the prestige point of view . . . is not enough; what matters even more is . . . adherence to high moral and aesthetic standards." -Siegmund Warburg, 1959
In this pathbreaking new biography, based on more than 10,000 hitherto unavailable letters and diary entries, bestselling author Niall Ferguson returns to his roots as a financial historian to tell the story of Siegmund Warburg, an extraordinary man whose austere philosophy of finance offers much insight into today's financial landscape.
A refugee from Hitler's Germany, Warburg rose to become the dominant figure in postwar London and one of the architects of European financial integration. Seared by the near collapse and then 'Aryanization' of his family's long-established bank in the 1930s and then frustrated by the stagnation of its Wall Street sister, Kuhn Loeb, in the 1950s, Warburg resolved that his own firm of S. G. Warburg (founded in 1946) would be different.
Warburg was not only the master of the modern merger and founder of the eurobond; he was also a key behind-the-scenes adviser to governments in London, Tokyo and Jerusalem-to his critics, a "financial Rasputin." Like a character from a Thomas Mann novel, Warburg was a complex and ambivalent man, as much a psychologist, politician and actor-manager as he was a banker. An obsessive perfectionist with an aversion to excessive risk, Warburg came to embody the ideals of the haute banquet-high finance, always eschewing the fast buck in favor of gilt-edged advice.