Book cover

The Global Merchants The Enterprise and Extravagance of the Sassoon Dynasty by Joseph Sassoon

5:00pm - 7:00pm / Wednesday 23rd March 2022
Type: Other / Category: Research / Series: Europe and the World Centre
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Chair: Dr. Hannes Baumann

Joseph Sassoon is Professor of History and Political Economy at Georgetown's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and holds the al-Sabah Chair in Politics and Political Economy of the Arab World. He is also a Senior Associate Member at St Antony’s College, Oxford. His research interests include political economy, economic history, Iraq, Iraqi refugees, and authoritarianism.

The Sassoons were one of the great business dynasties of the nineteenth century, as eminent as traders as the Rothschilds were bankers. Drawing for the first time on the vast family archives, Joseph Sassoon brings vividly to life a succession of remarkable characters. From a single generation: Flora, the first woman to steer a major global business, Siegfried, the poet, and Victor, the tycoon who drew the stars of Hollywood's silent era to his skyscraper in Shanghai. Through the lives these ambitious figures built for themselves in London, Bombay and beyond, the reader is drawn into a captivating world of politics and power, innovation and intrigue, high society and empire.
The Global Merchants, with a strong Liverpool element through the cotton trade, is thus at once an intimate portrait of a single family and a panorama of the hundred and thirty years of their prominence: from the Opium Wars and opening of China to the American Civil War, the establishment of the British Raj to India's independence. Together these give a fresh perspective on the evolution of one of the defining forces of their age and the present: globalization. The Sassoons were variously its agents, advocates and casualties, and watching them moving through the world, we perceive the making of our own.