Feature

Book of the week: Dealings by Felix Rohatyn

The former Lazard Frères investment banker takes the reader on a tour of the landmark bailouts, mergers, and takeovers he shaped.

(Simon & Schuster, $27)

Felix Rohatyn’s stories “are so good” a reader might not care that the self-portrait he’s drawn doesn’t always ring true, said Roger Lowenstein in The New York Times. An immigrant success story, the investment-banking icon escaped Nazi-occupied France as a boy, got an American education, and rose quickly at Lazard Frères after deeming banking sufficiently honorable. His laments about what greed and leverage have done to capitalism seem “a trifle two-faced,” given that he “was a contributor to those very trends.” But a reader will forgive mild hypocrisy for the chance to get an inside look at the deals Rohatyn swung. “One can only admire Rohatyn’s tenacious work” in saving 1970s New York City from bankruptcy, said James Pressley in Bloomberg.com. It’s enjoyable, too, to revisit dozens of his other landmark bailouts, mergers, and takeovers. But should any reader believe that Rohatyn has been as “naïve” and “overly idealistic” as he suggests? Not a chance.

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