The Women of Rothschild: The Untold Story of the World’s Most Famous Dynasty

St. Martin’s. Oct. 2022. 480p. ISBN 9781250280190. $39.99. HIST
The name Rothschild resonates throughout history as a powerful banking dynasty run by men. While correct, this is only part of the story of this talented and resourceful family. Livingstone’s (The Mistresses of Cliveden) new chronicle of some Rothschild women is a welcome addition to the family annals. Gutle Schnapper married Mayer Amschel Rothschild in 1770 in Frankfurt. They had 10 children who lived to adulthood, one of whom—Nathan—settled in London in 1798 and established the English branch of the family. Denied a role in banking decisions by Mayer Amschel’s will, Rothschild women often worked in the shadows to ensure the dynasty’s success. But Nathan was ably assisted by his wife, Hannah, who instructed her sons in important business dealings after her husband’s death. Other Rothschild women followed where Hannah led. These women instinctively understood noblesse oblige, with subsequent generations using their influence in liberal politics, art, music, literature, conservation, education, and social services. Some played a crucial role in the formation of Israel.
VERDICT Livingstone’s vital and compelling book fills a gap in Jewish and women’s history and will appeal to readers of both. The book includes extensive notes, an index, and a very helpful family tree.
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