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Deals of the Century

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Deals of the Century

Wall Street, Mergers, and the Making of Modern America


15 min read
10 take-aways
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What's inside?

The mega-mergers of the twentieth century prove that at least one axiom is true: the rich did get extremely richer.

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Editorial Rating



  • Comprehensive
  • Overview
  • Engaging


For all the headlines they grab, mega-mergers typically aren’t a good deal for anyone but corporate executives and investment bankers. And guess what? This was just as true when J.P. Morgan created U.S. Steel in 1901 as it was when Steve Case engineered the AOL-Time Warner merger in 1999. Financial expert Charles R. Geisst dissects a century’s worth of deals in fascinating detail. His conclusion: investor and regulator beware. Geisst’s accessible style is a plus, and he manages to be skeptical but not jaundiced in this thorough, clear-eyed analysis. suggests this book to any executive contemplating an M&A deal, and to any investor trying to cut through the hype surrounding mergers.


A Century of Big Deals

The century of deals began in late 1900, when Andrew Carnegie’s lieutenant, Charles Schwab (not the same man as the founder of the Schwab discount brokerage house) helped engineer the combination of Carnegie Steel and J. Pierpont Morgan’s Federal Steel Corporation to form U.S. Steel. The massive deal created the world’s first billion-dollar company and turned Andrew Carnegie into the globe’s richest man. Perhaps more significantly, the U.S. Steel deal made countless investment bankers rich. This foreshadowed a century-long trend of Wall Street professionals doing deals that grabbed headlines and fattened their bank accounts, with little regard for the effects on consumers and workers. The U.S. Steel deal also had huge repercussions in the stock market and in Washington, D.C., where hand wringers in Congress complained about monopolistic profiteering by Carnegie and Morgan. In the 100 years that followed, big, disruptive deals kept coming. To name just a few, the DuPont family bought a chunk of General Motors; R. J. Reynolds and Nabisco combined; Citibank took over Travelers Insurance and America Online merged with Time Warner.

What is today known...

About the Author

Financial expert Charles R. Geisst has written 14 books, including bestsellers Wall Street: A History and 100 Years of Wall Street. Geisst worked as an analyst and investment banker at several investment banks in London. He has written for the International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and other publications.

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