The Ascent of Money is a fast-paced, superbly written, and richly informative excursion through tableaus, themes, scenes, and events that mark the financial history of the world. Included are substantial details on the fiscal meltdown in progress in May 2008, before the book went to press, adding a 21st century variation on the theme of financial collapses detailed in The Ascent of Money. Niall Ferguson has written an exciting panorama of finance that is also very much a book for our times. This is history as global financial drama, of advancing financial development, and the always recurring back stories of financial decline and debacle. It is a book orchestrated as much as written. The Ascent of Money demands a narrator with the range of talents necessary for bringing to voice the rich orchestration of Ferguson's prose. Enter, stage right, Simon Prebble.
With his rich, versatile, and expressive British tenor voice (and his 300+ unabridged narrations in a variety of genres), Prebble is Ascent's perfect narrator. From the first sentence of the Introduction "Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot, lucre, moolah, readies, the wherewithal: call it what you like, money matters." to the last sentence of the Afterword "It is not the fault of the mirror if it reflects our blemishes as clearly as our beauty." Prebble delivers the authentic voice of this financial history. Applying here an altered nuance of phrasing, there the shortest of a shift of timing and slant of intonation, and everywhere present the voice's active tonal center, Prebble drives Ferguson's historical narrative forward. In a print book the reading eye catches, and the mind registers - at places only subliminally - meanings that are too subtle to be directly communicated. By his command and application of stored registries of articulation, expression, and ranges of emotion, Prebble clearly shows that he belongs with the best of narrators who can tap into and reflect and suggest the visual acuity that registers in the mind when reading and narrating. David Chasey
Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot, lucre, moolah, readies, the wherewithal: Call it what you like, it matters. To Christians, love of it is the root of all evil. To generals, it's the sinews of war. To revolutionaries, it's the chains of labor. But in The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson shows that finance is in fact the foundation of human progress. What's more, he reveals financial history as the essential back story behind all history.
Through Ferguson's expert lens familiar historical landmarks appear in a new and sharper financial focus. Suddenly, the civilization of the Renaissance looks very different: a boom in the market for art and architecture made possible when Italian bankers adopted Arabic mathematics. The rise of the Dutch republic is reinterpreted as the triumph of the world's first modern bond market over insolvent Habsburg absolutism. And the origins of the French Revolution are traced back to a stock market bubble caused by a convicted Scot murderer.
©2008 Niall Ferguson; (P)2008 Tantor
The narrator's voice really gives the story a good cadence. The time-line is good and the author only skipped around to make a historical point when giving background.
The author offers an interesting profile, literally, of the history of money. Tracing its historical 'development
Required too much attention due to the serious British accent going on. I also like to listen to my audiobook in the car through the AM/FM Transmitter and this one was horrible. It was the first book I could not listen to in the car. Haven't got through it due to that.
I found this book to be extremely interesting. There is a great deal of information to digest but it is read and presented very well. The story of our banking system is fascinating. The history of money is about so much more than just banking -- and it's all here in engaging detail. I would recommend this to anyone with a scintilla of intelligence.
Non-Fiction, Science, History and Business Reader
If you are looking for something in-depth or math heavy you should continue looking. This book is both approachable and easy to follow for anyone interested in a brief overview of the history of finance, so 5 stars.
I am a rabid fan of Planet Money and this book helps you to create a base on understanding finance and money. I have always wondered about where money comes from and how it works. I have wondered how insurance and the stock market came into being. It gives you a sense of how important a good idea is and how much power that idea can have. If I would have known how fascinating this stuff was in high school (yeah right) I probably would have been an econ major instead of engineering.
There is so much intersting information that I feel I need to listen to the book at least one more time. Very nice and logical presentation of money evolution.
I would have never bought a "history of money" book, but I happened to see the author lecture on TV, and this guy is really interesting. So, I took a chance and got this book, and I have to say, it is truly an enthralling history spanning centuries. I found myself driving around just to keep listening in my car. Not only do you learn about history and historical figures, but also investing, real estate, banking, leverage, and all sorts of ideas that come up in the news since the Housing bust. I think it's just awesome that you could read a "history" book, and end up understanding current events and modern economic issues better! This is Grade A material. Get it! You'll learn something and enjoy it. Great narrator too!
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