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Merchant Princes

An Intimate History of Jewish Families Who Built Great Department Stores

by Leon A. Harris

A compelling history of America's famous Jewish shopkeeping families shows how the Filenes, Gimbels, Marcuses, and others created renowned retail empires out of small pushcart beginnings, powerfully evoking the social changes that were transforming America early in the century. Reprint.

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Recommendations: 1

Categories: Biographies & MemoirsBusiness & Careers

Reading time: 1112 hours


Malcolm Gladwell
Journalist and Author

And every time I meet, and really, I’m always meeting people who work in retail, particularly I always send them, particularly if they’re Jewish, I send them a book called The Merchant Princes. It’s a book about the great Jewish retail families of America. So in the 19th century, all of these people come over from Europe who have experience in the garment trade or retailing. And an extraordinary number of the early 20th century/late 19th century department stores pop up around America are founded by Jewish immigrants from Europe from, literally, you go to any town in America, the traditional department store is from one of those families. Well, a guy, and I’ve forgotten his name, wrote a book about those families, and it’s called The Merchant Princes, and it’s fantastic.