The story of a dreamer.

Envisioning a socio-economic utopia, A. P. Giannini was not a typical banking tycoon. With a socially enlightened heart, he made the American dream a reality, not just for himself, but for society as a whole.

In spite of devastating personal obstacles, such as the death of his father, Giannini became the world’s leading banker of the twentieth century. Raised by hardworking peasant immigrants in what was considered a backwater area of California, Giannini received his economic education in an unconventional way, paving the way for his rise to prosperity.  

Founding the Bank of Italy for poor immigrant families, he wanted to overcome the barriers put in place by the conservative current banking elite to fulfill the dreams of “little guys.”  

Soon, the Bank of Italy became the Bank of America and the poor Italian was now in a position to help dreamers such as Walt Disney achieve their own dreams. Giannini also shaped the San Francisco skyline by financing the bold Golden Gate Bridge. His influences and hard work can be seen all over the country, simply because he believed in “a more general distribution of wealth and happiness.” 

“Valente, writing in crystal clear prose, concisely captures not only Giannini’s entrepreneurial boldness, but also his abiding commitment to social reform and civic causes.”


By Francesca Valente

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Francesca Valente (center) with A. P.’s nieces Anne and Virginia Giannini