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The Hare with the Amber Eyes

by Edmund de Waal

By Edmund de Waal

Rothchild, Ephrussi – two powerful banking families but only one of those names is widely known today.  Why?  How did two Jewish families, one from Frankfurt and the other from Odessa in the Ukraine become so powerful in international finance and political matters? 

 This fascinating book, which follows the rise and demise of the Ephrussi family, was recommended to me by my friend Albert Joly.  The author is a descendant of the Ephrussi family and a renown artist.  Marti and I read it on holiday a few years ago and couldn’t stop talking about it.  The Ephrussi family gained a monopoly on wheat from the Ukraine in the late 1700s.

From that base, they went into banking and were architects of the modern banking system.  Within two generations they had homes and banks in the most influential capitols of Europe, were patrons of the great impressionist artists and friends with heads of state across the continent. 

All that began to change in the 1930s.  Both families were primarily based in Austria and had been donors to and supporters of the government.  When Hitler rose to power, the Rothchild’s began moving assets to Switzerland and other nations but the Ephrussi’s were sure they would be safe.  You can guess why their name is not known today.

The title of this book might have piqued your interest, but I won’t produce an explanation here. Just read this wonderfully creative, brilliantly written, history of some of the greatest power brokers in history.


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