The Reichmann's: Family, Faith, Fortune And The Empire Of Olympia & York Paperback – Nov 4 1997
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The Reichmanns' astonishing saga began in Hungary and swept through Austria, France, and North Africa before achieving apotheosis in Canada, where the secretive, ultra-orthodox Jewish family founded Olympia & York Development, the greatest real estate empire in the world at its peak in the 1980s. The company's collapse into bankruptcy in 1992 is a modern cautionary tale of biblical proportions, rendered by business journalist Anthony Bianco in lavish detail backed by formidable research. Interviews with various family members enable the author to plumb personalities as well as profit motives; their decision to cooperate is justified by his careful fairness. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A decade ago, the Reichmanns of Toronto were ranked as one of the 10 wealthiest families in the world. Olympia & York, the five brothers' flagship real estate company, had major developments throughout the world. The story of 0 & Y's collapse has already been told well by Peter Foster in Towers of Debt: The Rise and Fall of the Reichmanns (1993) and by Walter Stewart in Too Big to Fail: Olympia & York, the Story behind the Headlines (1993). Both of those authors sketched in details of the Reichmann family history, but Bianco delves deep into the Reichmann genealogy, beginning during the "golden age of Hungarian Jewry" in the 1600s. He chronicles how the family prospered, first as egg merchants in Vienna and then, after fleeing the Nazis to Tangier, as currency traders. The Reichmanns are ultra-Orthodox Jews, and Bianco focuses on their beliefs, showing how they were able to balance their insular life in Toronto with the demands of a worldwide real estate empire. David Rouse --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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The part I liked the best was the descriptions of 18th and 19th century Jewish life in the "oberland"(sp?) of Hungary. A lost culture, thanks not only to the Nazis but also to Jewish Emancipation.
In a way, it is inspirational, as it shows how one family managed to integrate a healthy, traditional religious expression with philanthropy and business acumen. It also shows that you cannot understand what makes that family "tick" without understanding the rich culture and religion of orthodox jewishness.
The greatest strength of this book, in my opinion, is that it is a _history_ of the family and its business, religious, philanthropic, and cultural dealings. It isnt the hagiography that so many business biographies in the popular press tend to be.
Bianco's book "The Reichmanns"combines the themes of
at least three other books i.e."World of Our Fathers",
"The Warburgs" and "Barbarians at the Gate."
Addtionally, the book throws some addtional light on
Margaret Thacher's England and the Mulrooney
government of Canada in the 1980s. The book reads
like a novel and holds the reader entranced all the way to
This reviewer came to the book without even having
heard of the Reichmann family previously and still found
the book a very comfortable read. The book makes very
few pretensions about the previous knowlege of the reader.
What unfamiliar terms are used by Bianco in this book are
Yiddish and Hebrew phrases intentionally added to lend an
authentic atomosphere to the book. The terms are
repeated often enough that they too become a comfortable
part of the text.
Bianco, as the author of a previous book on business
and the economy--"Rainmaker"-- is well suited to the
subject matter. Early in the book he sets out to explain the
fresh egg trade in Europe prior to World War II (revealing
that England imported most of the fresh eggs that it
consumed and most of those eggs came from Hungary)..
But his style draws the reader in and the book ends up
making even the egg trade of Europe interesting to the
The book, "The Reichmanns; Family, Faith, Fortune and The Empire of Olympia & York" by Anthony Bianco is a 668 page mind boggling tale of a family dynasty that came from nowhere and rose to one of the most wealthy families in the world in one generation. The book explains how through Paul Reichmann's insatiable drive and willingness to parlay the profit from each successful project into a much larger endeavor, their wealth exploded to over $10 billion at the peak, just before risking everything on Canary Warf on London's East End.
At times it's a bit of a fight to get through the sections that are not related to business and real estate, but those sections give you a good idea about the family's morals and values and bring you closer to understanding their thinking.
A memorable section is when they braved the NYC real estate slump of 1976 - 1997 and purchased eight skyscrapers from the Uris Building Corporation for $46 million down. Within a decade the package would have a value of over $3 billion.
The book is packed with similar anecdotes that both inspire and encourage someone wanting to build a real estate fortune of their own.
By Kevin Kingston author of, "A 20,000% Gain in Real Estate"
The only question the reader might ask is, why do we start a story about a company that became big in the late 60s with the founder's ancestors of the early 19 century ? The reason becomes clear at the end, at the time this empire crumbles under the weight of a speculation gone sour; the power of this family lies in its strong, sometimes self-negating values of family and faith, a red line that turns through the book and evolves at points where you would least expect them.
If this was a fiction book, one should put it aside as too fancy, characters too good and too brave to be true etc. But this is real, and I was very please to learn that this last great speculation has turned fine again in the meantime and Mr Paul Reichmann into one of the big players in British real estate again.
The book is really great reading, in a language that combines both the right terms and enough sense for personal emotions the members of the family felt during their sometimes brutal voyage through this century. I was especially glad to see that this book is a fine farewell to the libel suit the Reichmanns had to fight in order to get away from the hilarious blame that they were money launderer, drug trafficers etc. It is quite clear after reading the book that these men and women just had more power through their faith and more ability in money matters in their finger-tips than any other person can ever aquire in Harvard or through the full experience of a lifetime. They are just excellent speculators and investors and never had any doubt to fail.
You should read this book to understand that everything is possible, that nothing will stand in your way if you truly believe - no matter if you are jewish or christian. Put this book after reading right next to your bible, that is the best place and the most honorable you can give it. I have given this book to 3 friends as a christmas gift, and all of them loved it as I do it.
Dr. Rudolf C. King CEO, princeandprince.com Ltd Owner of HouseOfCommerce Indonesia HouseOfCommerce@ibm.net Munich Germany