Mayer Matalon: Business, Politics and the Jewish-Jamaican Elite, published by Hamilton Books, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield, is a biography of one of the most influential people in 20th century Jamaica.
As a boy he shared a pair of long pants with his brothers, such was the modest family he was born into. He rose to wealth and prominence through his talent for numbers, his innovative ideas, and his extraordinary emotional intelligence. He was one of Prime Minister Michael Manley’s closest confidantes, in and out of power, and he advised every Jamaican premier and prime minister, with only one exception. That one exception resulted in a sidelining that had a blowback which set Jamaica back decades, and which sealed his family’s business’s fate.
This biography traces Mayer Matalon’s path from humble origins to innovator, public servant, political insider, and leader of his family’s conglomerate, from the 1940s to the end of the twentieth century. It is a story of race, class and power in post-colonial Jamaica. Through the lens of Mayer Matalon’s life, the book outlines Jamaica’s political and economic trajectory over the sixty years before and after independence.
This biography peels back the layers of the citations of public awards and the often uninformed speculation on the Matalons’ background and political connections, revealing in rich detail the unusual life of an extraordinary Jamaican.