New book: Impeccable Connections: The Rise and Fall of Richard Whitney, by Malcolm MacKay ’63 (Brick Tower Press)
The author: MacKay is a lawyer and businessman. As a boy and young man he knew Whitney after he had served time in prison. MacKay is the author and co-author of several Brooklyn histories and has contributed to The New York Times Magazine and Business Week.
The book: Richard Whitney was a successful bond broker and long-time president of the New York Stock Exchange. He argued against federal regulation of the securities industry and in 1934 appeared on the cover of Time magazine. But his life came crashing down when in 1938 he was shipped off to Sing Sing for embezzling his clients’ securities. “I have thought about Richard Whitney, and why he did what he did, all my life,” writes MacKay. “This book tells his story.”
Opening lines: “In the novel This Side of Paradise, Amory Blaine, Scott Fitzgerald’s stand-in, is shocked to discover that the most ‘breathlessly aristocratic’ member of the his Princeton class is actually the son of a grocery store clerk who struck it rich in Tacoma real estate. There is a bit of this with the Whitneys. As Richard’s great niece put it, ‘Our family always considered the Whitneys’ side to have come from nothing.’”
Review: “As long as there is a Wall Street, there will be stories such as Richard Whitney’s, and Malcolm MacKay spills some interesting ink in Impeccable Connections searching for answers as to why. Jealousy, chutzpah, psychological disorder, egotism, and the mentality of the ‘in’ group all come in to play,” wrote Trudy Whitman for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.