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White Shoe


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The rollicking true tale of how an ambitious new class of attorneys devised and implemented the strategies that made American business synonymous with big business, and helped make Wall Street the center of the financial world.

About the Author

John Oller is a retired white shoe Wall Street lawyer, having spent thirty years as an associate and then partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, one of New York City's most venerable law firms. He lives in Manhattan.


"Entertaining."-The Wall Street Journal

"Captivating... If Oller once wrote dry, impenetrable legal briefs, there's no hint of it here. His narrative sparkles with details that set this study of the legal profession's influence on big business into a fascinating historical context."-BookPage

"One of the most anticipated books of Spring 2019"-Publishers Weekly

"A valuable addition to the literature on America's transformation during the Gilded Age."-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A lucid account of the rise of the modern law firm and the concomitant rise of the modern corporation . . . insightful and revealing."-Kirkus

"This fast-paced history of the period from the white shoe perspective will be both entertaining and enlightening for most readers."-Library Journal

"In White Shoe, John Oller traces America's earliest super lawyers, hard-charging Wall Streeters who tilted history in the building of the Panama Canal, the birth of gargantuan American businesses, and the pursuit of world peace. A riveting portrayal of the swaggering advocates who deftly pulled the most important strings while raking in the biggest fees."-David O. Stewart, author of The Summer of 1787 and Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy

"John Oller has written a book both unique and valuable: a secret history of the original White Shoes, the lawyers of the Gilded Age. Everyone has heard of J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, but few are aware of the attorneys who did their bidding, figures such as Paul Cravath, Francis Stetson, William Cromwell, and Elihu Root. In sparkling prose, Oller captures their clever courtroom connivances, but also their surprising commitment to reforming the very system they fought to uphold. A highly illuminating read."-Justin Martin, author of Greenspan: The Man Behind Money

"Well written and meticulously researched, White Shoe documents the rise of the big American law firm, the modernization of its management, and the men who led them during the early twentieth century. It should be on the shelf of anyone interested in the development of the American legal profession."-Herbert Hovenkamp, Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania School of Law and The Wharton School, and author of Antitrust Law

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