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The Davis Dynasty


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Table of Contents

Introduction. Chapter 1. Davis Meets His Bankroll. Chapter 2. From the Great Depression To the Hitler Crisis. Chapter 3. Beyond the Rear-View Mirror. Chapter 4. A Last Hurrah for Bonds. Chapter 5. A Crib Course in Coverage. Chapter 6. From Bureaucrat to Investor. Chapter 7. The Bullish 1950s. Chapter 8. Davis Shops Abroad. Chapter 9. Wall Street a Go-Go. Chapter 10. Shelby Gets Funded. Chapter 11. The Inheritance Flap. Chapter 12. Cool Trio Runs Hot Fund. Chapter 13. The Worst Decline Since 1929. Chapter 14. Davis on the Rebound. Chapter 15. Shelby Buys Banks?Davis Buys Everything. Chapter 16. The Grandsons Get in the Game. Chapter 17. The Family Joins Forces. Chapter 18. Chris Inherits Venture. Chapter 19. Investing a la Davis. Source Notes. Index.

About the Author

JOHN ROTHCHILD co-wrote the blockbusters One Up on Wall Street, Beating the Street, and Learn to Earn (all with Peter Lynch). He is the sole author of The Bear Book, A Fool and His Money, and Going for Broke. A former editor of the Washington Monthly and Fortune magazine, Rothchild has written for Harper's, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and other magazines. He has appeared on the Today show, the Nightly Business Report, and CNBC.


In 1975, Mary Tyler Moore tossed her hat up in front of the Investors' Diversified Services building the tallest in Minneapolis then and today and made television history. Founded by a Minneapolis lawyer, John Elliott Tappan, as Investors' Syndicate in 1894, the company grew to a network of almost 7,000 independent financial salespeople before being acquired by American Express in 1984. Tappan's company now does business as American Express Financial Advisers. This book tells the IDS story in a frankly worshipful way (coauthor Peters is one of Tappan's great-granddaughters). Tappan applied the smalltown and rural door-to-door sales techniques of life insurance to agricultural banking and eventually branched out into other investment products, including insurance. With products tailored to the needs of small Midwestern investors and borrowers, the company competed successfully with larger and less personal East Coast institutions. Unlike many other investment companies, IDS survived the Depression with reputation and finances intact. It grew swiftly during World War II as its salespeople spread throughout the armed services and provided a home for savings in those cash-rich, goods-poor days. As these former servicemen retired in the 1980s, IDS reinvented itself first as a mutual fund company, then as a financial planning company. The authors credit Tappan with extraordinary vision and economic sophistication, but there is little hard evidence that he was more than a shrewd and persistent financial salesperson with an important but not defining role in the growth of IDS. (Sept.) Forecast: This book may do well among American Express employees, especially if there is a corporate buy; others will probably skip it. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Books on successful Wall Street investors have become common currency in publishing. Here, Rothchild (One Up On Wall Street) examines the legendary Shelby Davis, who founded Davis Selected Advisors in 1947. Rothchild chronicles how over the years Davis, his son, and his grandchildren have created a literal "family of funds" generating enormous returns for their investors. Davis and his progeny were somewhat conservative in their investment philosophies. They chose insurance companies, banks, and other financial institutions to invest in for the long-term, and the returns were nothing short of astonishing. Unfortunately, much of the historical eyewitness accounts provided here seem leaden. This, combined with an almost pedestrian writing style and the author's often fawning attitude toward the Davis family, makes for a rather lightweight work. Readers wishing to learn about the investing philosophy of another mutual fund founder should consider John Bogle on Investing: The First 50 Years (LJ 10/1/00) as he recounts his involvement in the Vanguard mutual fund family. Not an essential purchase. Richard Drezen, Washington Post, New York City Bureau Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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