Rainbow's End

Rainbow's End : The Crash of 1929

3.55 (63 ratings by Goodreads)
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Few single events have affected business and society in the US as profoundly and in such a short time as the Wall Street crash of 1929. In this book, the author puts into perspective the many conflicting theories of what caused the crash, what role speculation did or did not play, whether or not it could have been avoided, and what role it played in bringing on the Depression. The book explores the decade before the crash, outlining the heady years of the bull market and describing an era of unprecedented technological development, optimism and expanding wealth. The decade saw the burgeoning of a mass society and a popular culture driven by media and advertising, and a free market marked by unregulated banking and credit systems and get-rich-quick schemes. Maury Klein argues that the stock market crash marked a turning point in American history, where the failure of self-regulating individualism led to an overhaul of the financial system and much more government regulation. It threw into question the beliefs in the American dream spawned by the 20s and preceded a period of deep Depression, not only economically but in regard to the most fundamental American values.The book draws on a variety of people, developments and events to illuminate these themes: Jack Morgan, Richard Whitney, Joseph Kennedy, Charles Mitchell, Herbert Hoover, John J. Raskob and Alexander J. Noyes.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 366 pages
  • 162.6 x 243.6 x 31.2mm | 666.79g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195135164
  • 9780195135169

Review quote

"Klein tells the story of the crash clearly and well, with some especially good pen portraits of characters such as Thomas Lamont, Jesse Livermore, Charley Mitchell and Albert Wiggin (who actually made money short-selling)."--The Economist"Land crooks...delusional bank chairman...high-rolling speculators.... The woes of the local shoe-shine man and Groucho Marx get mentioned, too.... Klein offers a swift survey of the lunatic optimism of Wall Street and how it all turned to dust in the closing days of October.... Each chapter resonates with the follies of today."--Wall Street Journal"A remarkable blend of sharp-eyed business history and keen cultural analysis, Rainbow's End paints the most compelling picture yet of the stock-market crash of 1929. In Maury Klein's able hands, the story of the crash ends up illuminating not just Wall Street in the Jazz Age, but America as well. Boom and bust: Klein gives us both, in all their intoxicating and hysterical glory."--James Surowiecki, Business Columnist, The New Yorker"Well-written, entertaining and detailed.... Klein shows how optimism gradually spawned financial euphoria."--Robert J. Samuelson, The New York Times Book Review"The great crash of 1929 was one of those sharp breaks in the stream of time when all who were living knew immediately that their world had changed. Many, of course, have written of the crash, but few as well or as authoritatively as Maury Klein in Rainbow's End. He brings a historian's perspective to a complex story while retaining the sense of immediacy that made those terrible days some of the most exciting in American history."--John Steele Gordon, author of The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street As a World Power"A well-written, comprehensible assessment of the 1929 stock -market crash. Klein is an elegant constructor of business histories, and one can read dire warnings between the lines here. A most timely business narrative." --Kirkus"Klein helps readers better understand the reaction of millions to an event that shook the world.... A timely publication."--Library Journalshow more

About Maury Klein

Maury Klein is Professor of History at the University of Rhode Island and one of the most acclaimed historians of American business at work today. He is the author of many books, including The Life and Legend of Jay Gould (a Pulitzer Prize finalist), Unfinished Business: The Railroad in American Life, and Days of Defiance: Sumter, Secession, and the Coming of the Civil War.show more

Review Text

A well-written, comprehensible assessment of the 1929 stock-market crash. Klein ("The Life and Legend of E.H. Harriman", 2000, etc.) is a seasoned business historian, and he humanizes a potentially dry subject, capturing how the rapid post-WWI transformations affected both average Americans-who, as "minnows," were seduced by the market-and the powerful cabals that ran "the Street." Although the dark chaos of October 1929 provides the center here, Klein reconstructs the halcyon days preceding the crash, the ethos of greedy naivete, which may have caused it, and its relationship to the worldwide depression that followed. He is adept at explaining complex business ideas (such as covert stock pools and the bearish tactic of "selling short," both of which were factors in the crash) in terms that convey the gravity of what followed 1929's "Summer of Fun." He builds toward the climactic disaster via scrupulous readings of primary sources, and strengthens the milieu by depicting many of the era's most significant industrial and cultural figures, such as Henry Ford and Aimee Semple McPherson, as well as the Street's many gold-plated gurus, from Sunshine Charley Mitchell of the National City Bank to the famous stock-tipping bootblack Pat Bologna, some of whose shady tactics undeniably contributed to the final panic. Of the Great Crash itself, which began on Thursday, October 23, and continued through Tuesday, Klein notes that "the selling wave seemed irresistible . . . frightening holders into 'selling at the market' " (at any price), while technology was overwhelmed by human fallibility, with stock tickers running over an hour late. Throughout, as Klein ruefully observes, one cannot miss the glaring similarities between Hoover's pro-business "New Era" and our own recently hobbled, high-tech "new economy," such as the irrational exuberance demonstrated in both eras by an uneducated investing public. Klein is an elegant (if detail-obsessed) constructor of business histories, and one can read dire warnings between the lines here. A most timely business narrative. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

63 ratings
3.55 out of 5 stars
5 13% (8)
4 37% (23)
3 44% (28)
2 6% (4)
1 0% (0)
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