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Building Home

by Eric John Abrahamson

Building Home is an innovative biography that weaves together three engrossing stories. It is one part corporate and industrial history, using the evolution of mortgage finance as a way to understand larger dynamics in the nation's political economy. It is another part urban history, since the extraordinary success of the savings and loan business in Los Angeles reflects much of the cultural and economic history of Southern California. Finally, it is a personal story, a biography of one of the nation's most successful entrepreneurs of the managed economy --Howard Fieldstad Ahmanson. Eric John Abrahamson deftly connects these three strands as he chronicles Ahmanson's rise against the background of the postwar housing boom and the growth of L.A. during the same period. As a sun-tanned yachtsman and a cigar-smoking financier, the Omaha-born Ahmanson was both unique and representative of many of the business leaders of his era. He did not control a vast infrastructure like a railroad or an electrical utility. Nor did he build his wealth by pulling the financial levers that made possible these great corporate endeavors. Instead, he made a fortune by enabling the middle-class American dream. With his great wealth, he contributed substantially to the expansion of the cultural institutions in L.A. As we struggle to understand the current mortgage-led financial crisis, Ahmanson's life offers powerful insights into an era when the widespread hope of homeownership was just beginning to take shape.

Spirited Commitment

by Eric John Abrahamson Roderick Macleod

Showing how the SSBFF has balanced its commitments to Jewish charitable causes and to Canadian culture, Spirited Commitment explores how the Foundation dealt with the challenge of respecting the wishes of its famous founders while still making a difference in contemporary Canadian society. A detailed account of the Foundation's numerous programs over three decades - including the Centre for Cultural Management and the Saidye Bronfman Centre - Spirited Commitment highlights the innovations that SSBFF grants have led to in the arts, community development, and scientific research. An illuminating and vibrant portrait of the personalities, motivations, and strategies behind the Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation, Spirited Commitment is a revealing, insightful account of the inner workings of philanthropic foundations.

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