Our Crowd; the Great Jewish Families of New York Info

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"Novelist Birmingham has compiled a voluminous, friendly
collective history of ""Our Crowd""--variously known as the Jewish ""One
Hundred"" or the ""gilded ghetto""--and it falls somewhere between
social history and elevated tattletale. A little like Cleveland Amory,
but without Amory's stylish turn of phrase. Birmingham has obviously had
greater access to some families rather than others, (our in-informants
say a few facts are wrong) and the Seligmans (peers and equivalents of
the Rothschilds who dominated the pre-Civil War scene), the Schiffs, and
to a lesser extent the more conspicuous Guggenheims, the Lewisohns,
Warburgs and Lehmans dominate the chronicle. These assorted annals
concentrate on how they made their money rather than spent it (although
Otto Kahn's favorite number for dinner was sixty, and Adolph Lewisohn
maintained thirty gardeners); indicate the solid, stolid echt German
stability of these people who, economically, built a banking society of
their own and, socially, formed a closed end mutual fund (particularly,
until after World War II, in their exclusion of Russian Jewry).
Occasional anecdotes brighten the pages--for instance Henriette Seligman
who flushed a prowler out of her basement and put him out on the street
with a firm ""Do not return."" The market--that of The Rothschilds to
begin with even if we question if it will go that far." -- Kirkus
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