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The Reichmann's: Family, Faith, Fortune And The Empire Of Olympia & York [Paperback]

Anthony Bianco
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Nov. 4 1997
The epic rise and spectacular fall of the devoutly religious and secretive family that was one of the ten richest of the world. The Reichmanns is filled with fascinating characters, epic scope, and an illuminating look at the world of the ultra-orthodox. 16 pp. of photos. 608 pp. Author tour. Targeted ads. Online promotion. 35,000 print.

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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.

From Booklist

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.

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5.0 out of 5 stars HI!!! May 7 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The shipment was fast and book in perfect shape!
I recommend this store-shipper all the time!
I`ll enjoy my reading very much!
Thanks
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Details of a lost culture and a lost business empire June 23 2001
By Dunstan Boyko - Published on Amazon.com
The book discusses in great detail the Reichmann family's role both in Jewish culture over the last couple hundred years and in the real estate developement business over the last 40 or so years.
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brian Wells Esq. Reviews "The Reichmanns" Aug. 29 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Just as stated in the dust cover of the book, Anthony

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

the end.

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

average reader.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I recommend the book May 21 2005
By Kevin Kingston - Published on Amazon.com
The Reichmanns

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"
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely interesting. A well written and well researched book. July 7 2009
By A Benincasa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. This book follows the lives of the Reichmann family. The book begins in Hungary where the Reichmann's were born and wends its way through Europe, to Morocco and thereafter to Toronto, Canada where the Reichmann's still call home and ultimately the entire world. The book begins in Hungary and gives an in depth history of the Reichmann Brothers parents and Orthodox Judaism. Having not been brought up in this religion or tradition, I found this part of the book fascinating and informative. The family narrowly escapes the Nazis and crosses the ocean to settle in Toronto. The oldest brother, Edward, is already in Montreal and helps Paul, Ralph and Albert start a tile company. As fate would have it, the company grows large enough to build a new warehouse. The brothers are upset at the prices they are quoted to build the warehouse and build it themselves for significantly less than the lowest bid. This seemingly irrelevant circumstance is the beginning of what becomes one of the most intense stories of property development and wealth accumulation in the history of the world. From the experience of building their own warehouse, the brothers purchase land and buildings in Flemingdon Park in Toronto. At this point I must interject and say that, though the brothers are Paul, Albert and Ralph, it seems that the vision, the financial acumen and the genius of the company is all Paul Reichmann. Paul seems to be the one who takes the ideas from inception to completion. And for me the parts of the book that are about Paul are the most fascinating. It is NOT just the vision that Paul Reichmann has, but it is the courage and the conviction to place his entire company on the line SEVERAL times. Ironically, this was also the downfall of the company as Paul made an ENORMOUS bet on Canary Wharf in London that ultimately caused the company, Olympia & York, to implode and declare bankruptcy. After Flemingdon Park, the brothers erect "First Canadian Place" in downtown Toronto. At the time, this is the tallest building in the Toronto skyline. From there, Paul buys the Uris Buildings in recession laden New York City for $320 million dollars. People think he is crazy, but these buildings eventually are valued at ten times what he paid for them. The buildings are used as collateral for his next venture, "The World Financial Center" in the financial district of NYC. The WFC is built on the landfill from the excavation of the "World Trade Center". Each megaproject's story is told in comprehensive detail. The brothers, though ensconced in business, never waiver from their strict Orthodox roots and their charitable contributions to Orthodox Judaism and Orthodox education are legend. There are minor projects all over the US (when talking about the Reichmann's, projects valued in the tens of millions become minor.) This brings us to Canary Wharf, another megaproject that was ultimately the undoing of the family fortune and the company. Strangely, after Canary Wharf was placed in receivership, it went on to become successful and Paul Reichmann ultimately participated in its success. So it turns out that his timing was off and had the banks given him some leeway, it seems the company could have stayed intact. I apologize for the oversimplification, but I would have to write another book just to explain what has happened since then. Paul Reichmann is approaching 80 years old. He is apparently still involved in many aspects of business. This story does justice to a financial genius of the highest order and it can give some insight into his thought process. Yes, he faltered and perhaps it was his own hubris that helped bring O&Y down, but just to get to this level requires focus and intelligence on an almost unimaginable scale. This is fun reading and it almost has an air of unreality as the projects get bigger and bigger and the stakes larger and larger. Someday I'd love to see a book exclusively about Paul Reichmann, one that would try to capture how he thinks and WHAT he was thinking when these projects were being built. I think this would be valuable to any student of business and finance.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific reading over more than 2 centuries and 3 continents May 23 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A great, excellent book, that one should not start reading at 8 pm - he or she might finish it only at 8 am the next morning. It is not so much a book about any single person, rather about what difficulties one can stand if one truly believes in future success, as this family's members alwazs did.
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
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