At noon, on September 16, 1920, a horrendous explosion rocked Wall Street, instantly claiming the lives of thirty pedestrians and seriously injuring hundreds more. Yet, for all of its awesome force, that bomb was a firecracker compared to another, much more spectacular one, several years later - the great stock market crash of 1929.
Once in Golconda is a dramatic chronicle of the breath-taking rise, devastating fall, and painstaking rebirth of Wall Street in the years between the wars. Focusing on the lives and fortunes of some of the era's most memorable traders, bankers, boosters, and frauds, John Brooks brings to vivid life all the ruthlessness, greed, and reckless euphoria of the '20s bull market, the desperation of the days leading up to the crash of '29, and the bitterness of the years that followed.
Writing with authority, verve, and considerable humour, Brooks introduces us to a bygone world in which the likes of Junius Morgan and fellow members of the Yankee "aristocracy" jealously controlled Wall Street as if it were their private hunting preserve. At the centre of this colourful whirlwind of a tale is the magnificently hubristic Richard Whitney. The story of his rise to the presidency of the New York Stock Exchange and his eventual downfall and imprisonment for stock fraud and embezzlement characterizes the play of monumental forces that transformed Wall Street from WASP Camelot to public institution.
Though it was first published in 1969, this riveting tale explores timeless themes of profound significance for today's investors - from the corruption that led to the creation of today's securities laws to the folly of investor hubris in a bull market.
'A fast-moving, sophisticated account . . . embracing the stock-market boom of the twenties, the crash of 1929, the Depression, and the coming of the New Deal. Its leitmotif is the truly tragic personal history of Richard Whitney, the aristocrat Morgan broker and head of the Stock Exchange, who ended up in Sing Sing.' Edmund Wilson, writing in the New Yorker
John Brooks (1920-1993) was an award-winning writer best known for his contributions to the New Yorker as a financial journalist. He was also the author of ten nonfiction books on business and finance, a number of which were critically acclaimed works examining Wall Street and the corporate world. His books Once in Golconda, The Go-Go Years, and Business Adventures have endured as classics. Although he is remembered primarily for his writings on financial topics, Brooks published three novels and wrote book reviews for Harper's Magazine and the New York Times Book Review.