Feature

Book of the week: High Financier by Niall Ferguson

In High Financier, Ferguson draws a rich and vivid portrait of British banker Siegmund Warburg.

(Penguin Press, $35)

Niall Ferguson’s “richly vivid portrait” of British banker Siegmund Warburg documents an old-fashioned financial culture that’s “a far cry from the ethos that dominates today’s Wall Street,” said Liaquat Ahamed in The New York Times. After fleeing Nazi Germany in 1934, Warburg started a small London investment-banking firm and eventually managed to join the “inner sanctum” of British financiers. Despite their wealth and influence, bankers like Warburg “thought of themselves like family doctors” who made money by giving sound advice, not by trading.

Ferguson is known for “Big Picture, Big Idea” books, but High Financier simply “follows a solitary capitalist” as he goes about his business, said T.J. Stiles in The Washington Post. “If Warburg’s name seems unfamiliar, that is partly by design.” While Warburg was discreet, Ferguson shows that his influence was far-reaching. “When he spoke, presidents, prime ministers, and Henry Kissinger listened.”

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