Emile and Isaac Pereire

Bankers, Socialists and Sephardic Jews in nineteenth-century France

By Helen M. Davies

Emile and Isaac Pereire


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9356-6
  • Pages: 280
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £15.99
  • Published Date: April 2016
  • BIC Category: Modern History, History, France, European history, HISTORY / Europe / France, Humanities / European history
  • Series: Studies in Modern French and Francophone History


Emile (1800-75) and Isaac Pereire (1806-80) were pivotal and sensational figures, their lives and careers a lens through which to re-examine the history of France in the nineteenth century. Among the first generation of Jews emancipated by the French Revolution, they became significant Saint-Simonians, contributing to its philosophy of financial and economic reform. They were the first to implement the new rail technology in France and to launch the first investment bank of any size in Europe, the Crédit Mobilier. The Pereires ultimately came to stand behind banks and railways throughout Europe and in the Ottoman Empire. They were thus major players in France's and Europe's industrialisation and the modernisation of its banking system.

This book is equally a social and cultural history of the Jews in France, addressing the means through which the Pereires managed their business empire and the contribution of family life to its success. It is their first full-scale biography in English.


'...the topics it covers cannot help but be of interest to those who study economic and financial development, the Industrial Revolution, entrepreneurship and the history of economic thought...Helen Davies' monograph is the first biography of the brothers Pereire in English and it makes extensive use of archival sources...Her book serves as an interesting complement to more standard economic histories of nineteenth-century France.'
Esther Redmount, Department of Economics, Colorado College for EH. Net January 2016

'Helen M. Davies's book constitutes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the development of France during the longue durée. Those seeking insight into the economic history of the July Monarchy and Second Empire--as well as aspects of Sephardic family and private life--will learn much from the lives of Emile and Isaac Pereire.'
Jeffrey Haus, Kalamazoo College, H-France Review Vol. 16 (July 2016), No. 111

'Helen M. Davies provides a very useful, state-of-the-art and nuanced portrait of the lives of Emile and Isaac Pereire, brothers and prominent bankers in a changing nineteenth-century France on her path to industrialisation . Davies provides a vivid portrait of their habits and strategies to emerge as eminent financiers and entrepreneurs convinced that economic competence and abilities were to be coupled with a strong vision of the future.'
Giandomenico Piluso, University of Siena, Business History, vol. 59, issue 7, 2017

'In her deeply researched examination of the lives and relationships of these exceptional individuals, Davies chronicles the influences that shaped their worldview and enabled their success, as well as the influence that they in turn exerted over their world. Her study illuminates the networks of influence and innovation within which they operated and through which they rose to the top of the Parisian haute bourgeoisie [.] Davies's work is meticulous, well written, and judiciously concise.'
Naomi J. Andrews, Santa Clara University, Journal of Modern History, Vol. 91, No. 1


1. Bordeaux: a Sephardic childhood
2. The new society
3. The new entrepreneurs
4. The adventure of rail
5. Capitalism and the State
6. The family business
7. Private lives of public men
8. Boom and bust
9. Epilogue
10. Conclusion


Helen M. Davies is Fellow of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne

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