The World – A Family History – Simon Sebag Montefiore

Welcome to Family Capital’s Podcast Series – an occasional series of interviews with some of the most talented and engaging individuals in the world of family capital. In the third of the series, the award-winning business journalist Matthew Gwyther chairs a fascinating discussion with the celebrated historian Simon Sebag Montefiore, who spent the three years of lockdown writing a History of the World as seen through its significant families. 

The book is already a best-seller – it’s world history on the grandest and most intimate scale – spanning centuries, continents and cultures, and linking grand themes of war, migration, religion, medicine and technology to the people at the centre of the human drama.

Above, the History of the World is a testament to the huge role family dynasties have played in the development of the modern world. The book is, therefore, so relevant to better understanding family capital. 

Simon is himself the product of a family banking dynasty. He’s a descendant of Sir Joseph Sebag-Montefiore (1822-1903), the nephew and heir of the wealthy philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore considered by some “the most important Jew of the 19th century”.

The Montefiore family are descended from a line of wealthy Sephardi Jews who were diplomats and bankers all over Europe and who originated from Morocco and Italy. 

In this podcast interview, we discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the family business model – the Trumps, the Wedgewoods, the Rothschilds, and even the mafia. Also, why do the Tech Titans of the last 30 years – Gates, Bezos and Zuckerberg –  do not appear inclined to found dynastic businesses. 



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