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Description de l’éditeur
By mid-nineteenth century, Meyer Amschel Rothschild's five sons controlled one of the most massive fortunes in Europe. The Rothschild name had become synonymous with the enormous political and social power that often accompanied that wealth, the amassing of which is remarkable considering the painfully modest beginnings of its founder.
Born in the unimaginable squalor of Frankfurt's Jewish ghetto (where he chose to spend his entire life), Meyer Rothschild established a small trading and banking business that - despite political, legal, and social constrictions segregating Jews from the outside world -evolved into an empire that included the financial centers of the world.
Founder is the story of Meyer Rothschild's times, of the condition of the Jews, of the city-states before they were overrun by Napoleon's troops. It is about the threshold of the modern era, when the world of aristocrats and gentlemen was profoundly influenced by a shrewd, dedicated, loyal father and his family. Amos Elon's rich and evocative depiction of life in mid-eighteenth-century Europe provides a vivid background against which we come to understand and marvel at the strength and perseverance driving this obviously extraordinary, humble man.
'Elon... has written a terrifically readable biography that does more than illuminate the formerly shadowy figure who served princes in what is now Germany. Through the prism of Mayer Rothschild's life, Mr. Elon gives us a fascinating glimpse into how Europe - and by implication, the New World - made the journey from mercantilism to modern entrepreneurship....Mr. Elon's feat is in chronicling all this with clarity and drama. Founder skillfully weaves history into this story of human endeavour to create a memorable narrative of Mayer Rothschild's time.'
Deborah Stead, New York Times Book Review
"Well, nobody gets anything for nothing," Mayer Amschel Rothschild wrote from Frankfurt to his 19-year-old son Jacob (soon to be James) in Paris. Learning his lessons well, the brilliant, energetic Jacob would outwit Napoleon's fiscal watchdogs, bankroll his nemesis, Wellington, to the immense profit of the Rothschilds and assist in the undoing of Bonapartist France. The elder Rothschild, born in Frankfurt's crowded, rank Judengasse ghetto in which he lived all his life, would leave his five indefatigable sons his vast fortune and his even vaster pride. Much of his correspondence and papers have disappeared; in 1938, the Nazis even attempted to destroy his tombstone, and the crescent of tenements in which he lived and worked with his shrewd, sturdy wife, Guttle, burned in several conflagrations. No portrait of him exists. Yet out of what survives in documentation and in the memories of contemporaries, Jerusalem-based journalist Elon (Herzl: A Biography) has reconstructed the remarkable life of the creator of a banking empire that flourished despite a pervasive anti-Semitism that denied Frankfurt Jews even the right to leave their walled-in dwellings at night. Born in 1744, Rothschild began as a teenage dealer in foreign coins and later branched into every aspect of money exchange, financing sovereigns, merchants and armies. Posting his sons to other financial centers, he had established, by his death in 1812, a European banking empire. Filling in documentary gaps with 57 evocative illustrations, many of them contemporary, Elon has fashioned a brief but memorable first biography of a near-mythical founding father.