From primitive man's cowrie shells to the electronic cash card, from the markets of Timbuktu to the New York Stock Exchange, The History of Money explores how money and the myriad forms of exchange have affected humanity, and how they will continue to shape all aspects of our lives--economic, political, and personal.
©1998 Jack Weatherford (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
I loved this audiobook. It has a wealth of history not just about money, but also of the world. Any book that elucidates your understanding of history is a great asset in my opinion. It was interesting to learn about the Roman empire, the knights templar, etc. all in relation to money. Narration was great also.
Most in the US have not studied the very concept of "money" nor its known history. This book jumps around chronologically and does so in order to get across that money is nothing more than what we collectively agree it to be. I found it both informative and entertaining. Some may not know the role that gold and/or silver has had in shaping what we currently call "money" across the globe, so it may seem like this is a pro-gold standard diatribe when it's actually covering what used to be "money" and the reasons for the longevity of metals as currency. Included are various history lessons, including how money and debt played a role in the conversion of the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire ca. 27 BC.
I highly recommend it.
I enjoy books about history, politics, physics, and anthropology. My favorite fiction author is Kurt Vonnegut.
Be warned that this is an author with a very biased view on how economies should work, and this book is written from the perspective that pure unregulated free markets are the best system of economics and that state intervention always makes things worse. My problem isn't that he has this perspective, but the fact that he doesn't make it clear that it is merely his perspective and gives the impression that there isn't robust debate that exists on the subject. It makes it hard to trust him as a historian. It really narrows the perspective on history rather than expanding it, which is what a short introductory economic history book should do.
The beginning of this book offers some very interesting history, such as how commodity currency worked in Aztec economies and how certain types of material used as currency had different effects on social structure and cultural practices. I trust the author's reporting on politically benign matters, such as the gathering of whale teeth for bartering, but it seems as the closer the narrative gets to our modern economy, the more this anti-state free market bias shows itself. It subtly starts to show itself when he gets into the reasons for why the Roman Empire collapsed, which he claimed was completely caused by taxation and the government trying to take care of people. By the time he gets to his opinion on the Great Depression I had to stop listening because it seemed to completely devolved into a rant about how governments supposedly are bumbling beurocracies that are either ineffective at addressing economic problems or make them worse by meddling in the free market.
He's perfectly entitled to his opinion, but the problem is he states it as if it were undisputed fact. He uses such phrases as, "Everyone in America was in agreement that the government made things worse by tampering with the money supply during the Great Depression," as if all debate were closed on the subject. If what he says is true, then this was the first and only case of everyone in the country agreeing on something. The fact that there's a robust debate around the role of the government in the economy is completely lost on the reader when he presents history this way, and gives a very narrow-minded interpretation of complex historical events.
Not being a historian myself, I was only able to recognize this bias when he approached subjects of contemporary history I'm familiar with, and it made me worry that I might have been presented with an equally narrow-minded view of what events caused economic problems in earlier societies like the Roman Empire and Lydia.
I'm not suggesting that you should choose a book written from a socialist perspective, but a book claiming the title of "The History of Money" should be much more measured in its presentation of facts if it is to be taken as a good introduction to economic anthropology.
Yes, as a reviewer notes, this work is not exhaustive. There are gaps, in the history and in geographic areas. I might have titled it "a" history of money, rather than "the" history. And some points of view might not be exhaustively represented, particularly some modern political slants. But this book is a treat, end to end. I would think a person lopsided and unimaginative for fixating on these supposed imperfections and missing the bright, illuminating treasures scattered all over this work, both in character-and-detail-rich stories, and in imaginative presentation of concepts. The author is a born storyteller and explainer. I feel myself enlightened and empowered by having heard this.
I gave it 4 stars, but I have a distinct feeling this topic could have been made much more interesting. Somewhere between the Knights Templar's banking precedent and the airline miles industry, it all became less gripping. It also didn't help that some of the chapters ended with such an extensive summing-up that I kept thinking the book was ending. But no. So I don't know, it was maybe the dry writing style, maybe uneven interest, who knows. Still, this was interesting and comprehensive enough.
light on dates and laborious introductions to chapters, the author leaves you feeling that you could do a little of your own research when he moves too briskly through a period.
Very entertaining overall.
Surprised it isn't a top seller.
I would not have thought of reading this book, but I read the author's book about Genghis Khan and enjoyed it so much that I thought I would give his other books a listen. Though the end of the book discussing the era of electronic money was a bit tedious to me, the rest of the book more than made up for that, and I'm sure I will read it again in a couple of years. The section about the decline of the Roman empire was downright scary in its similarity to the U.S.A. today.
I enjoy, epic and modern fantasy, science fiction, business, historical mystery, and technology books. Fav. series: Game of Thrones, Vampire Earth, Dresden, Iron Druid, Falco mysteries, Chris Anderson titles, Peaceful Warrior, and the Way of Kings (and more, of course;)
This book is provides an interesting history of the evolution of currency and the effects of money-use on the civilizations that used them. The beginning was a bit slow and felt like an extended historical introduction (I actually stopped listening for a while before coming back to the book), but once I got past the first section, the story was very engaging and produced many interesting facts, histories, and a new perspective on modern day finance. 4 out of 5 due to the slow start, but very good for someone curious to know more about the basics of money history and some economics.
This book was like auditing a colourful lecture series. A great learning experience ... if only I had taken notes!
Very thorough history of the evolution of money
Yes. It would be too detailed for some.
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