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Tuesday, March 8, 2022

The Warburgs: The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish FamilyThe Warburgs: The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family by Ron Chernow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two things.

There's a lot of good info in this biography of the Warburgs. Lots of interesting people. Aby and Eric and even Siegfried are the real standouts for me, from the establishment of philanthropy and libraries all the way to the skullduggery during the Third Reich and the dissolution of the banking empire.

It's literally rich with details and countless people. In a way, assuming that you like endless sprawling extended dynasties, this is a perfect book.

But the other thing:

It's a hot mess the way it's written.

It's almost as if it's a garbage soup of writing, with very few threads to keep the narrative cohesive. It succeeds in being pretty damn comprehensive, but when it comes to the sheer enjoyment of narrative, it's lacking. Big time. I found myself wandering in and out of caring about so many of the happenings, latching on to big events like WWI or the Great Depression or WWII and the times when some of the more interesting family members step up and do something. But the other times were... well... it's a huge doorstopper of a book and I kept checking the time and the remaining pages.

Even so, there were some excellent chapters. The atrocities of the Third Reich, for example.

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