“America’s Richest Woman” by Janet Wallach is a biography of pioneering business mogul Hetty Green, also known as “The Witch of Wall Street” among journalists of the time. The book follows two stories: that of Green’s life and that of the United States during it.
Wallach details the factors that led to every recession and boom during Green’s lifetime. Many of the same indicators can be seen during the recessions and booms of the late 20th and 21st centuries.
The reader will expect to know more about Green’s life, but will come away with much more. While telling the story of this witch, Wallach paints a vibrant picture of the United States of the Golden Age, giving descriptions of big cities like New York during several crises and booms that occurred from the middle to the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Wallach describes the prosperity that engulfed New York, where people tore down old institutions to make way for new ones, writing “so frequently that Harper’s Magazine complained that the city was unrecognizable to anyone born forty years before” .
The biography is suitable for those who want a glimpse of what life was like in the United States after World War II in an easily digestible story form.
The author also draws parallels between Green and the saga of American business magnate Warren Buffett. The two have similar investment strategies – buy when everyone else is selling and sell when everyone is buying – with Green saying, “Watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.”
Green is portrayed as a human who makes mistakes and is far from perfect.
Although she’s a self-made billionaire — having inherited her aunt’s $2 million estate and a similar amount from her father — it’s safe to say that beyond her greed, she’s helping to improve the world. country. She is saved giving low-interest loans to New York in times of crisis, deploying her son to buy closed train tracks in Texas to improve and make it easier for people to get around, and donating large sums of money to charities, and left a lot of his money to them.
Green was an advocate for women‘s financial education. Although many of her beliefs were those of a “simple Quaker woman”, she believed that women should know their finances, even stating that she believed there was no reason why a woman could not not be a wife, run a house and do business. Some of her other views on issues such as the women’s suffrage movement and having a female president were not as progressive.
Green led a turbulent life filled with tragedy, adventure, and hard work. It’s admirable to see a woman of her time do business with men and so well. The Golden Age is known as a time of great economic growth, and watching Green navigate these times while remaining true to herself is something anyone who reads the book can apply to their own lives.