The Way It Was Summary

The Way It Was

INSTITUTIONAL INVESTOR, a monthly magazine, was started in 1967 and has grown into one of the most successful financial publications in the world. By 1987, it had an American circulation of 103,000 and an international edition of 37,000 copies, sent to more than 140 countries. A large part of the magazine’s success is attributable to its user-friendly style: It has always focused on personalities rather than cold statistics. The editors wanted to put out a book to commemorate the magazine’s first twenty years of publication, but they evidently thought that mere reprints of past articles would make the book seem dated. Instead, they chose to conduct a series of new interviews with people who have been key players in the financial world during two of the most turbulent decades in American business history. The result is a collection of short, informal pieces which illuminate the past from the perspective of the present.

THE WAY IT WAS is a bulky and good-looking book, as befits a showcase volume of this genre. It contains more than one hundred interviews with such famous personalities as David Rockefeller, T. Boone Pickens, Carl Ichan, and Joseph Flom. There is also a good representation of important foreigners such as Helmut Schmidt, former chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany; Mohammed Ali Abalkhail, Minister of Finance and National Economy of Saudi Arabia; and Haruo Mayekawa, former governor of the Bank of Japan. The editors have incorporated as many different points of view as possible. They have even included an interview with two officers of the New York Police Department who discuss some aspects of policing the financial district.

The reader gets the overall impression that each interviewee was concerned with very specific goals and problems during this hectic period and did not have much time to think about the big picture. There is a sense that even the most prestigious figures were at the mercy of larger historical forces which they did not fully understand and certainly did not control. The book should interest not only students of business but also students of history and political science, because most important world events these days are intricately interwoven with finance.