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Tearing Down the Walls

  'The very night that Sanford 'Sandy' Weill, the chairman and chief executive officer of Citigroup, was being feted on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as CEO of the Year, the television screens above the floor were flashing danger: A congressional panel was tearing into Jack Grubman, the $20-million-a-year telecommunications analyst who worked for Sandy. Had Grubman and Citigroup favored corporate clients at the expense of average investors? Was Citigroup recommending stocks of troubled companies to get their business? The worst scandal of Sandy Weill's long career was breaking around him. Here, from its very beginning, is the riveting inside story of how a rough-edged kid from Brooklyn overcame incredible odds and deep-seated prejudice to put together Citigroup, the world's largest financial empire, and to transform financial services in America -- for better or worse. Tearing Down the Walls provides an unprecedented look at how business and finance are conducted at the highest levels, with extraordinary insight into the character and motivations of powerful men and women. And it's the enthralling account of the interplay between power and personality. Sandy Weill, the son of an immigrant dressmaker, is a larger-than-life character, a legendary Wall Street CEO whose innovativeness, opportunism, and even fear drove him from the lowliest job on Wall Street to its most commanding heights. Over a span of five decades he has tangled with -- and usually bested -- some of the most prominent and powerful titans of finance, including the elitist financier John Loeb, the mutual-fund gunslinger and conglomerateur Gerald Tsai, the patrician American Express chairman Jim Robinson, and the cerebral banking visionary John Reed. A consummate deal maker, Sandy Weill amassed and then lost an astounding assemblage of securities firms, only to plunge ahead to rebuild his empire and ultimately create the modern American financial-services supermarket. At the center of Citigroup's recent crises, he's the mogul many are waiting to see topple, while many more are trying to figure out how he succeeded. Using nearly five hundred firsthand interviews with key players in his life and career -- including Weill himself -- The Wall Street Journal's Monica Langley brilliantly chronicles not only his public persona, but his hidden side: blunt and often crude, yet unpretentious and sometimes disarmingly charming. Tearing Down the Walls reveals Weill's tyrannical rages as well as his tearful regrets, the crass stinginess and the unprecedented generosity, the fierce sense of loyalty and the ruthless elimination of potential rivals -- even those he loves. Langley illuminates a climb to the top filled with class conflict -- Jew against WASP, immigrant against Mayflower descendant, entrepreneur against establishment -- and explores the volatile personality that inspires slavish devotion or utter disdain. By highlighting in new and startling detail one man's life in a narrative as richly textured and compelling as a novel, Tearing Down the Walls provides the historical context of the dramatic changes not only in business but also in American society in the last half century. Compulsively readable, it is also essential for understanding the forces that are reshaping the American financial system today.

MASTERS OF SPACE - The Inventors

  an excerpt from the PREFACE: This is the story of talking at a distance, of sending messages through space. It is the story of great men—Morse, Thomson, Bell, Marconi, and others—and how, with the aid of men like Field, Vail, Catty, Pupin, the scientist, and others in both the technical and commercial fields, they succeeded in flashing both messages and speech around the world, with wires and without wires. It is the story of how the thought of the world has been linked together by those modern wonders of science and of industry—the telegraph, the submarine cable, the telephone, the wireless telegraph, and, most recently, the wireless telephone. The story opens with the primitive methods of message-sending by fire or smoke or other signals. The life and experiments of Morse are then pictured and the dramatic story of the invention and development of the telegraph is set forth. The submarine cable followed with the struggles of Field, the business executive, and Thomson, the inventor and scientific expert, which finally culminated in success when the Great Eastern landed a practical cable on the American coast. The early life of Alexander Graham Bell was full of color, and I have told the story of his patient investigations of human speech and hearing, which, finally culminated in a practical telephone. There follows the fascinating story of Marconi and the wireless telegraph. Last comes the story of the wireless telephone, that newest wonder which has come among us so recently that we can scarcely realize that it is here. An inner view of the marvelous development of the telephone is added in an appendix. The part played by the great business leaders who have developed and extended the new inventions, placing them at the service of all, has not been forgotten. Not only have means of communication been discovered, but they have been improved and put to the widest practical use with remarkable efficiency and celerity. The stories of these developments, in both the personal and executive sides, embody the true romance of the modern business world. The great scientists and engineers who have wrought these wonders which have had so profound an influence upon the life of the world lived, and are living, lives filled with patient effort, discouragement, accomplishment, and real romance. They are interesting men who have done interesting things. Better still, they have done important, useful things. This book relates their life stories in a connected form, for they have all worked for a similar end. The story of these men, who, starting in early youth in the pursuit of a great idea, have achieved fame and success and have benefited civilization, cannot but be inspiring. They did not stumble upon their discoveries by any lucky accident. They knew what they sought, and they labored toward the goal with unflagging zeal. Had they been easily discouraged we might still be dependent upon the semaphore and the pony express for the transmission of news. But they persevered until success was attained, and in the account of their struggle to success every one may find encouragement in facing his own tasks. One can scarce overestimate the value of modern methods of communication to the world. So much of our development has been more or less directly dependent upon it that it is difficult to fancy our situation without the telegraph and telephone. The diligence with which the ancients sought speedy methods for the sending of messages demonstrates the human need for them. The solution of this great problem, though long delayed, came swiftly, once it was begun.

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