A Portrait of the First Rothschild and His TimeeBook - 1996
Meyer Amschel Rothschild was born in the Frankfurt ghetto in the mid-eighteenth century, in a city more restrictive in its treatment of Jews than any in Europe. Elon brilliantly depicts Meyer Amschel Rothschild's position there, and life on the almost unimaginably cramped Judengasse (the single street of the ghetto), where he lived his whole life - even after becoming one of the richest men in Germany. We read how he established his small trading and banking business, and forged an uneasy relationship (though one mutually profitable in different ways) with the financially obsessed Crown Prince Wilhelm of Kassel; how he pushed at and eventually broke through the restrictions that bound him and his family to the ghetto until he found himself essentially paying for the English war effort in the Peninsula in 1810. On a richly delineated canvas the emergence and secularization of a family and Western European Jewry is depicted. Founder is more than a short biography of an obviously extraordinary man. It is a portrait of Meyer Amschel Rothschild's times, of the condition of the Jews, of the state of Germany until it was overrun by the troops of Napoleonic France, which led to the collapse of the old order. It is about the threshold of modern times, when a world of aristocrats and gentlemen was permanently changed by a shrewd, dedicated, and loyal financier and his family. We still cannot know him as well as we do his children; but at last, in this book, Meyer Amschel Rothschild himself emerges from the shadows of the Judengasse.
Publisher: New York : Viking, 1996
Characteristics: 208 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm