Intrigue found in this book is both malleable and insightful. I learned a lot about history that I otherwise would have never known, and it was enjoyable.
Hjalmar Schacht. I did not know who he was, nor did I know that he played such a close role to the infamous Nazi party leading up to WWII. It is always good to read (listen to) history, especially of this era. It's exciting to find a figure who is close to the fray, and he is also in this gray area between good and evil - as most of the central banker characters were. They operated in a highly charged ethical and moral environment where decisions mattered almost minute by minute in some scenarios.
A few times I laughed, especially those eureka moments when you realize the history in actuality might be different than the history in pill-form taught to children.
I read it due to an interest in central banking after reading Alexander Hamilton's biography. I would recommend it to any who may just enjoy history in general without a special interest in financial history; however, it can be overbearing with financial details and culture which tended to be more boring than anything else.
This book was long , but never boring. Packed with a wealth of information, it listens well. The book sounds as if it were written for this narrator. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the subject of global finance in the 1920's.
I am a documentary film producer from Los Angeles.
The 20ties and the 30ties were often avoided by historians. Finally I found an author that really reveals the misguided policies of the "Peace of Versailles". Polices that lead to the great depression and the second world war... A must read.
It was quite long. Each character was exhaustively introduce which was a bit tedious at times but which subsequently helped the reader to understand how the thinking of each fed into the whole. So, a long book but worth the time to listen to. Really showed how complex the relationships were and are between all of the economies of the world. Eerily similar to 2008 showing how easy it would have been to have had a second great depression.
The explanation of how the economics works. How DOES a nation "fall out of the gold standard?" This book explains it in simple terms that anyone can understand.
How interconnected the world economy really is and always has been. While we talk about "globalism" today as if it is something new, this book shows that, even in the early 1900s, everything was connected even then...
Worth the time to go thru it if you want to understand what happened in 2008 and want to be able to understand what people like Ron Paul are talking about when they speak of "hard money". Will really give you a basis to make up your own mind...
Avid reader of classics and fiction, history and well-written genre novels. Music lover and huge audiobook fan.
This is a terrific book, very timely and amazingly relevant for anyone with any interest in the world of finance, monetary policy, or international economics. Readers should be warned that it is slow going for even the best readers, but it is not an academic text and once you get into it it is hard to stop listening. It is really a book about the four major central bankers of the interwar era and it is not a treatise about the evils of finance. The central dilemma of the book is actually the debt generated by WWI and the return to the gold standard and its economic consequences for Europe and the United States. It is a great illustration of the need to study and understand economic history in order to understand our world.
My biggest problem getting involved with the book was that it is so dense i needed to keep going back to the beginning to keep track of the different stories and personages. I am a very good reader but I must have restarted the book on three separate occasions....it is not a light read.
That said, once I did get involved I could not put the book down and following it became a good deal easier. I highly recommend sticking it as it is so timely and relevant to the issues of our day.
Lastly, I rated the performance only four stars despite Stephen Hoye's talent as a reader for a very complex text. His narration in many ways is one of the attractions of the book, which could have been read very badly or at the wrong speed or without understanding of concepts of economics and monetary policy that would have made listening impossible. My problem was that throughout the book he uses a very bad British accent when speaking the words of a British personage and inconsistently uses a slight German accent for the German banker. This is not a novel with dialogue. Not only does this affectation not serve the text, it actually detracts from the reading and disturbed the flow of the narration. Luckily he doesn't put on a French accent for the Frenchmen but the whole accent thing was badly done and totally unneeded. Otherwise the performance was excellent.
The subject has been very well researched by the author and the book goes into detail about all the points that are brought up. I really enjoyed the detail on the subject, but the detail may be a bit much for people who are not interested in monetary economics and banking.
This book is basically a history textbook, a few chapters of a macroeconomics textbook, and 4 biographies rolled into 1.
It spends more time talking about politics and the outward appearances of the characters rather than getting to the punchline. It's very long and long winded.
The book covers 1914 to 1944. It goes through and attempts to link together the policies, events, and mistakes throughout the time frame. It covers WW2, Gold Standard, etc.
Perhaps I did not give it much of a chance but this audiobook pretty much put me to sleep. It goes through the very personal background of the characters. Too much detail I believe. I was expecting the author to start discussing the character's favorite color.
I am sure it is a good book and others will surely enjoy it. Maybe I should have bought the abridged version.
So other reviewers have done a pretty good job explaining things, I just wanted to add one point that was not 100% clear to me as I read their reviews, namely: Is this book a hack job? The answer is no. That is, there are a lot of crazy people out there with their own pet theories about what caused the depression or how fractional reserve banking is all a conspiracy of the illuminati or how the only way to fix what ails the economy is to reinstate the gold standard. This is not at all one of those books. It's a well-written, scholarly (but very readable/listenable) history of the role central bankers played in bringing on the Great Depression. But don't just take my word for it, take Ben Bernanke's. (My one pet peeve: though Ahamed doesn't precisely take a stand on the issue, he's pretty sympathetic to the dominant view that war reparations against Germany were excessive and should have been written down to a great extent. My own view is that the reparations were if anything only moderately excessive, and that the allies erred in continuing to waffle on the issue for years, convincing Germans like Schacht that they could finagle their way out of paying. But, as I said, mine is the heterodox view on this particular point, and Ahamed doesn't come down hard one way or the other.)
Good Historical Review of Key Money-Men/Bankers who impacted major political events in Europe, the US, and other regions of the world in the early 20th century.
Too many personal details on lifestyles of wealthy families/individuals presented throughout the book that did not seem to be significant to the storyline. Most of book however was relevent to the main topic of financiers who mismanaged world financial resources.. Average read on wealthy power brokers and how they influence world events.