Once in Golconda by John Brooks
  • Title: Once in Golconda
  • Subtitle: A True Drama of Wall Street, 1920–1938
  • Author(s): John Brooks
  • Publisher: Open Road Media
  • Year: 2014-08-12
  • ISBN-10: 1497679079
  • ISBN-13: 9781497679078


“Once in Golconda” by John Brooks is an enthralling and meticulously researched account of the rise and fall of the stock market during the late 1920s and early 1930s. The book centers around the lives and fortunes of key individuals who played significant roles in shaping this period, such as Richard Whitney, Jesse Livermore, and Bernard Baruch. Through in-depth character studies, Brooks brings this volatile era to life, delving into the ambitions and motivations that drove these men to amass great wealth or suffer devastating losses.

Brooks skillfully explores the complexities of the stock market, uncovering the events and circumstances that ultimately led to the infamous crash of 1929. With a keen eye for detail and a narrative prowess, he navigates the reader through the financial landscape, providing valuable insights into the ins and outs of Wall Street during this transformative time. “Once in Golconda” not only serves as a historical account, but also as a cautionary tale, highlighting the dangers and pitfalls of unchecked speculation and the fragility of the market. A captivating and insightful read, this book is a must for anyone interested in understanding the history and intricacies of the stock market.

Book Review

Title: “Once in Golconda” by John Brooks: A Captivating and Enlightening Dive into Wall Street’s Past

John Brooks, in his highly acclaimed book “Once in Golconda,” takes readers on an intriguing journey through the rise and fall of the stock market during the 1920s and 1930s. With his impeccable research and enthralling storytelling style, Brooks offers a comprehensive examination of this pivotal era, shedding light on the motivations, ambitions, and ultimate fates of key individuals who played significant roles during this transformative time.

Brooks skillfully brings to life the towering figure of Richard Whitney, a prominent banker and stock exchange executive. Whitney’s meteoric rise to power, as well as his subsequent disgrace and a downfall symbolizing the corruption and excesses of the era, is portrayed with remarkable detail. For instance, the book delves into the infamous “siege of Whitney” event, where the stock exchange closed down following Whitney’s embezzlement scandal. Through this example, Brooks meticulously explores the intricate web of relationships, power dynamics, and personal motivations that contributed to the tumultuous nature of Wall Street.

Brooks also looks at the enigmatic Jesse Livermore, a self-made millionaire who repeatedly outwitted the market only to succumb to its unpredictable nature. Livermore’s roller-coaster life, marked by extraordinary gains and devastating losses, serves as a cautionary tale against reckless speculation, a theme that runs throughout the book. Brooks paints a vivid picture of Livermore’s intense determination and often self-destructive behavior, offering valuable lessons about the emotional and psychological toll of financial speculation.

In addition to examining individual stories, “Once in Golconda” delves into the wider historical context. Brooks skillfully paints a vivid portrait of the excesses and euphoria that gripped the nation during the “Roaring Twenties,” leading to the infamous stock market crash of 1929. The book provides a comprehensive analysis of the rampant speculation, lack of regulation, and flawed economic theories that contributed to the collapse. Through his expert storytelling, Brooks sheds light on the interconnectedness between economic factors, political decisions, and individuals’ actions, offering readers a holistic understanding of this transformative period.

One of the strengths of “Once in Golconda” is Brooks’ ability to break down complex financial concepts into easily digestible narratives. Through the portrayal of key events and conversations, he demystifies the intricacies of the stock market, making it accessible to both experts and novice readers alike. Whether discussing the inner workings of stock exchanges or the mechanics of margin trading, Brooks effortlessly weaves these technical details into a captivating and engaging narrative.

Overall, “Once in Golconda” is an essential read for anyone interested in the history of finance or the inner workings of Wall Street. Brooks’ meticulous research, combined with his stellar storytelling ability, offers readers a front-row seat to one of the most tumultuous periods in financial history. By exploring the lives of key individuals and dissecting the societal factors that contributed to the crash, the book leaves readers with a profound awareness of the potential dangers of unregulated speculation and the need for prudent financial practices.

With its timeless lessons and captivating prose, “Once in Golconda” remains a vital book that educates, entertains, and serves as an enduring reminder that financial excesses can have devastating consequences.

Word Count: 529

Target Audience

The book “Once in Golconda” by John Brooks is targeted at a varied audience interested in financial history, the stock market, and the dynamics of Wall Street. This includes:

  • History and Finance Enthusiasts Readers with an interest in exploring the events leading up to the infamous stock market crash of 1929 and its subsequent consequences will find “Once in Golconda” to be a captivating and comprehensive account. The book goes beyond a mere retelling of facts and provides valuable insights into the motivations and personalities of key players during this era.
  • Investors and Traders Those involved in the financial industry or interested in understanding the complexities of the stock market will benefit from Brooks’ thorough analysis of the volatile and speculative nature of Wall Street during the time. The book serves as a cautionary tale, shedding light on the potential risks and pitfalls of unrestrained speculation.
  • Researchers and Scholars “Once in Golconda” is highly recommended reading for historians and scholars studying the interplay between economics, politics, and individual actions. Brooks’ deep research and meticulous attention to detail make this book a valuable resource for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the period and its impact on the financial world.
  • General Non-fiction Readers With its engaging narrative style and insightful storytelling, “Once in Golconda” is accessible and engaging for readers seeking a well-written and engrossing work of historical non-fiction. It offers a window into a transformative moment in American history and reveals the human drama and economic forces that shaped it.

In conclusion, “Once in Golconda” is recommended reading for a diverse range of audiences, including history enthusiasts, investors, researchers, and general non-fiction readers. Brooks’ impeccable research and ability to weave a compelling narrative make this book an invaluable resource for anyone interested in understanding the rise and fall of the stock market during the 1920s and 1930s, as well as the broader lessons it holds for the financial world today.