Most businessmen are known by the company that keeps them. Not so, burly old Amadeo Peter Giannini, the J. P. Morgan of the West Coast. The 495 branches of his Bank of America mirror "old A. P.'s" domineering personality as sharply as the name of his huge bank holding company, Transamerica Corp., mirrors his ambition.

Son of an Italian immigrant, A. P. symbolizes to millions of depositors the small man who has lifted himself up without toadying to "the interests." Conversely, most of the interests hate the Giannini guts. The nation's biggest branch...

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