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Greed and Glory on Wall Street: The Fall of the House of Lehman by Ken Auletta

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To most immigrants in the mid-nineteenth century, New York was the gateway to the New World. But when Henry, Emanuel and Mayer Lehman decided to leave the family cattle business in Bavaria, they chose by instinct or luck to settle in Montgomery, Alabama, a hub of the cotton trade. The first of the brothers to leave their home in search of fortune was Henry, then twenty-three and the oldest. Henry settled in this city of 4,000 citizens and 2,000 slaves. His two brothers soon followed, and in 1850 they established a trading and dry-goods business called Lehman Brothers.

Cotton trading burgeoned—until the War between the States intruded. The Lehman brothers became partisans of the Confederacy, whose original capital was Montgomery. On March 16, ...

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