Magnificent in scope, internationally lauded, and transcendent, the novel in verse that inspired the sensational West End and Off-Broadway play of the same name. The Lehman Trilogy follows the epic rise and fall of three generations of that infamous family and through them tells the story of American ambition and hubris.
After leaving his native Bavaria, Henry Lehman arrives in America determined to make a better life. Sensing opportunity in the Deep South, he opens a textile shop in Alabama, laying the foundation for a dynasty that will come to dominate and define modern capitalism. Emanuel and his brother Mayer begin investing in anything and everything that will turn a profit, from cotton to coal to railroads to oil to airplanes—even at the expense of the very nation that forged them.
Spanning three generations and 150 years, The Lehman Trilogy is a moving epic that dares to tell the story of modern capitalism through the saga of the Lehman brothers and their descendants. Surprising and exciting, brilliant and inventive, Stefano Massini’s masterpiece—like Hamilton—is a story of immigration, ambition, and success; it is the story of America itself from a daring and original perspective.
Italian playwright Massini's lush, sprawling novel in verse, which inspired an eponymous Broadway show, presents a fictionalized story of the Jewish immigrant Lehman family and their multigenerational role in the history of American capitalism. Heyum "Henry" Lehman, son of a cattle merchant, arrives in America from Bavaria in 1844. He enters the cotton trade in Montgomery, Ala., and his two brothers, Emanuel and Mayer, soon join him. Decades later, with enough capital to invest in banking, oil, and automobiles, the brothers groom three of their sons for places in the business. The third generation of Lehmans thrive despite the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression, and they are aided by cousins who go into politics and law. They persevere through WWII and the Red Scare under the leadership of Robert, but in the 1960s, Robert fails to prepare the company for the oncoming computer age, and after a slump in the 1980s, the family business is sold to American Express. Massini's energetic, plainspoken epic reads like a never-ending folk ballad ("He left with America fixed in his head/landed now with America in front of him/but not just in his thoughts: before his eyes./Baruch HaShem!"). Fans of experimental fiction will find this rewarding.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Interesting, Not Great
While interesting and different as it is written in verse, this leaves me cold. No interest in the players as human beings comes out of this. Spectacular growth of capitalism for sure, but cold and emotionless throughout. Maybe that’s the point , or it just doesn’t work as verse. Worth a try but I wouldn’t run to buy.