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The richest woman in America : Hetty Green in the gilded age
Wallach, Janet
Adult Nonfiction HG2463.G74 W35 2012

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Hetty Robinson Green (1834-1916) was as rich as Rockefeller, worth $100 million at her death. Born to an emotionally withholding Quaker family that instilled in her the value of both wealth and thrift, she grew her inheritance into a massive fortune through shrewd investments in greenbacks, struggling railroads, and real estate. Wallach (Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell) makes a strong case that Green's Quaker family valued financial shrewdness over physical affection, shaping their daughter into a supremely confident woman who overruled her husband's and children's desires for independence and sued business adversaries as a matter of course. Green also defied expectations of a wealthy woman, dressing, eating, and living simply according to her "starched New England values." Wallach's enjoyable account encourages admiration for Green's cheekiness in the face of straitlaced bankers but strains to portray Green as a doting mother and the occasional good friend since her strict frugality and money-related eccentricities required significant compromises from those around her. Still, the author successfully portrays a compelling woman who kept her eyes on the glittering financial prize, using a commonsense philosophy regarding real estate and investment throughout the 19th century's Wall Street roller-coaster. Agent: Lynn Nesbit. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Investor Hetty Green (1834-1916) came to be known during her lifetime as "the Witch of Wall Street" and later as "the World's Greatest Miser." The image of Green has been rendered more positive and complex recently, e.g., as in Charles Slack's Hetty: The Genius and Madness of America's First Female Tycoon and now in Wallach's contribution. Green amassed an estimated $100 million over her lifetime, but spent many of her years living in boardinghouses, eating soup, and wearing tattered, out-of-date clothing. Wallach (Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell) argues convincingly that Green's frugality was excessive but understandable for several reasons. The loss of control she experienced when her father died and left much of the already considerable family fortune in the hands of a trust was one factor. Another, learned from the economic downturns of the Gilded Age, was that because fortunes can be lost, money should be saved and invested, not spent profligately. Green's methods were condemned to a great extent simply because she was a strong and canny woman. VERDICT Wallach covers much of the same ground as Slack, so it is unnecessary to own both books, but biography buffs and general readers will learn much from Wallach's engaging study.-Keith Muchowski, New York City Coll. of Technology (CUNY) Lib., Brooklyn (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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