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Hetty: The Genius and Madness of America's First Female Tycoon
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Hetty: The Genius and Madness of America's First Female Tycoon

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  213 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
A full century before Martha Stewart, Oprah, and Madonna became icons, generations before women swept through Wall Street, and decades before they even had the right to vote, there was Hetty Green, America's richest woman, who stood alone among the roguish giants of the Gilded Age as the first lady of capitalism and is remembered as the Witch of Wall Street.

At the time of
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published November 2nd 2004 by Ecco (first published November 1st 2004)
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M.K. Hobson
Dec 21, 2009 M.K. Hobson rated it it was amazing
The 1996 book, The Wealthy 100, ranked the net work of 100 wealthy Americans by the percentage of the Gross National Product their personal fortunes represented. Hetty, the only woman on the list, came in 36th— five places behind Bill Gates and three places ahead of Warren Buffett.

This is a fascinating, well-written book about an amazing woman. On her own, using financial acumen unheard for a woman in her day and age (she died in 1916, at age 81), she managed to parlay a family inheritance into
Nov 06, 2008 Rory rated it liked it
I thought I'd totally dig this book. I love reading about 1. American history, 2. especially women in American history, 3. especially women beating men at their own game in American history, and 4. especially women beating men at their own game in American Victorian to Progressive-era history.

And I remembered seeing a picture of Hetty in the Guinness World Records when I was in grade school. She was deemed the world's worse miser, or something, because she ate cold oatmeal while having kajillio
Nov 05, 2014 Debra rated it liked it
An interesting account of a woman swimming against the tide in a time when woman were not known or allowed to take the reins of business. Because there were no sons, her father had her by his side to learn the fundamentals of business. Whether he realized that this would keep her from "settling" for the life of society maiden is doubtful.
What is sad is that Hetty never seemed to balance the running of her fortune with the joy of using it to at least live comfortably rather than in rented room
Dean King
Jan 17, 2009 Dean King rated it it was amazing
A well-researched and deftly written biography of one of the early-20th century's most intriguing Americans.
Aug 05, 2007 Gregg rated it liked it
The first female tycoon and a horrid miser. Evil men are interesting, evil women are fascinating.
Apr 02, 2011 jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hetty Green was known as The Witch of Wall Street around 1890, as she dressed in shabby old black gowns and outdated bonnets while she saw to her business about New York's financial district. I first read about her in The People's Almanac as a kid and thought she was fascinating, as did every newspaper during her decades as the wealthiest woman in America. She had an amazing business sense, which she gained from her wealthy father, to know when a piece of real estate or a bond would be valuable ...more
Jan 02, 2008 Sara rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: history fans

This biography of renowned miser Hetty Green is interesting because of its subject’s wealth and thrifty habits; but what I found even more interesting was how the author tried to highlight Hetty’s humanity and failed.

Hetty Green lived from 1834 to 1916 and was born into a Quaker family who happened to control the wealthiest whaling company in America. She inherited her family’s money, some of it through an aunt’s will, on which Hetty allegedly forged the signature. She went on to multiply that e
Feb 25, 2014 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
A well researched biography on the richest American woman of her time, Slack's book is a well written piece on a woman that seems quite queer. The author discusses at some length the family history of the Greens and the Howlands before diving in the accumulation of Hetty Green's massive fortune. What I found most refreshing are the little anecdotes that are scattered over the whole book.
Jan 12, 2013 Darius rated it liked it
Shelves: business
This is a very average book. It contains a few interesting snippets but if one wants to read about interesting business-people, there are many better options.

I found too much of the text was devoted to years before she started in business. Undoubtedly this was because the author was able to gather material about these years, not because they were very relevant in themselves.

It also turns me off when an author makes conjectures using the term "undoubtedly", which this author does more than once.

Mar 14, 2015 Rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
boy, I thought I was cheap.....thought about Hetty Green after I saw a Mel Gibson interview and he quoted her ( with no credit given) he quoted about
stocks "buy low and sell dear"
Mary Follis
Hetty Green was the female equivalent of a Rockefeller or Carnegie; originally, the family money came from whaling. Hetty died in 1916.
Hetty Green, known to her legion of detractors as ‘the Witch of Wall Street’, became the richest woman in the world through a combination of financial genius and utter ruthlessness, living like a pauper and caring nothing for what the world thought of her. (Her two children found it much less pleasant.) Not a likable character by any means, and yet there is something (almost) admirable in the way this flinty, quintessentially New England Yankee competed with powerful men in a man’s world – and w ...more
Alfredo González
Jun 25, 2016 Alfredo González rated it really liked it
Nicely written and entertaining. The guild age was rich in colourful characters, and Hetty was at the top.
Nice read
Mar 14, 2015 Emily rated it it was ok
The subject matter was extremely interesting and the manuscript seemed factual enough, but the copyeditor should be shot.
Anandh Sundar
Jan 11, 2013 Anandh Sundar rated it really liked it
Hetty is often heralded as the only successful female investing tycoon of modern era, more surprising for the early 1900s. But there was hardly any narrative on her beyond her famed stinginess. This book helps understand her early years(trust fund, neglect, fascination with money, financial news), building of fortune(real estate and bond investing) and later decline. The book is written well but could have done with more of her actual investing approaches. Still it does what it promised of expla ...more
Savvas Katseas
Το "Hetty" είναι ένα ενδιαφέρον -αν και κάπως υπερβολικά μακρύ για το θέμα που πραγματεύεται- "πορτραίτο" της Hetty Green, πιθανότατα της πλουσιότερης γυναίκας που έζησε ποτέ. Μίζερη σε σημείο ηλιθιότητας -παρά τις μικροδιαφωνίες του Slack επί του θέματος- η Hetty κληρονόμησε μια σεβαστή περιουσία από τον πατέρα της και κατάφερε μέσα από έξυπνες μανούβρες, απίστευτη Scrooge McDuck-ική τσιφουτιά και πολλές γενναίες να την πολλαπλασιάσει. Το βιβλίο απεικονίζει όμορφα μια εντελώς διαφορετική εποχή ...more
Aug 17, 2016 Kellen rated it really liked it
Cleared up a lot of misconceptions and urban myths.
Sandra Strange
People are truly weird, and this book chronicles the life of one good example. Hetty Green made her mark on a man's world of Wall Street finance and real estate in an era that featured "robber barons" who would do anything for money. Green was a true eccentric, living in apartments with her children, moving from place to place to avoid taxes, never spending any more than she absolutely had to on living, only on making more money. This remarkable story reads like a novel, fascinating in its narra ...more
Jul 31, 2010 Jana rated it liked it
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book. I found it in the Hidden Gems shelves at the library. Whoever picks for that section has good taste in non-fiction. This book was full of interesting stories about a woman who was pretty amazing for the time period she lived in. She did so well financially, and yet was so cheap in her every day life. It's interesting when you discover what ultimately happens to her fortune. It was a good reminder to me of what is really important in life. . . and it' ...more
Jun 14, 2014 Joe rated it liked it
Good overview of her life; painted her in a fairly good light, unlike most previous writings about her.
Mar 18, 2012 Vilo rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I had not heard of this contemporary of J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie. This may be because, although she was a notorious miser, she did not do some of the flagrantly evil things the others did (J.P. Morgan sold defective rifles to the US government during the Civil War--causing soldiers' thumbs to get blown off). The book was interesting not only for its portrayal of intelligent but troubled Hetty Green, but for showing the economic history of this period of time.
Feb 10, 2014 Anne rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed reading about someone I had never even heard of. She was an interesting character to say the least. I would suggest this book and my favorite quote from the book is from her son Ned durning an interview - "He liked to quote his mother's adage that paying people to work was more honorable and better for the recipient than simply giving money away." Still applies today!
Jan 16, 2013 Steph rated it it was ok
Skim-able... she was rich and smart, but that doesn't necessarily make an interesting read. After muscling through this book, I now know why I'd never heard of her.
Aug 22, 2013 Jeannie rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Normally I would not pick up a book such as this but I found it very easy to read and understand. The author made it very interesting and readable.
Jul 07, 2010 Sue rated it really liked it
wow! she was tough and ahead of her times... and mean,too! liked it very much... the times, her particular life, etc.
Barbara Ashe
Sep 29, 2009 Barbara Ashe rated it liked it
The book held my attention, although I was not spell bound. I did learn that I am definately not a "Hetty".
Nov 25, 2007 Barb rated it it was ok
Definitely not my kind of book. However, I was fascinated by the determination and drive that Hetty possessed.
Jan 21, 2012 Clara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: research
A sympathetic and well-written book about this much-maligned character. Readable and full of information.
P.J. Sullivan
Apr 18, 2011 P.J. Sullivan rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
This is the most detailed and most credible biography of Hetty Green that I have found.
Apr 20, 2008 Lydia rated it it was amazing
I want her money - but not by being like her. She rocks!
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