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The Ascent of Money Audiobook

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World

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Audible Editor Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

Niall Ferguson follows the money to tell the human story behind the evolution of finance, from its origins in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest upheavals on what he calls Planet Finance.

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

What Members Say

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  •  
    Shiloza 01-01-10
    Shiloza 01-01-10 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Best Financial Historico-comtemporary Review"

    This book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand how money works: the past, the present, and the future. I watched the author on TV one late night and he was impressive. Niall Ferguson did a good job by providing solid examples that leaves the listener/reader spell-bound by the depth of his research and the simplistic way he communicated his knowledge.

    Ferguson has spurred my desire to understand in greater detail subjects like: Stock market-(bonds,options, hedge funds etc, Monetary Policy (I have just bought a book by Milton Friedman - inspired by you).

    This is a transformative book and I am greatly indebted to Niall.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
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    Daniel New York, NY, USA 09-11-09
    Daniel New York, NY, USA 09-11-09
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    "Not a history of money"

    This is not a history of money (currency) but rather attempts to be a complete financial history, and so is really an economic history of Europe and the Western World.

    Yes, it is fascinating to know how the advent of credit and financial innovation revolutionized Europe and the New World and is the "back story" of most of Western World History since the 1300s. However, I think the book is mis-titled, and does not explore the non-Euro-centric world in any revealing way.

    26 of 33 people found this review helpful
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    Carolyn Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 04-14-15
    Carolyn Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 04-14-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Fascinating History of Finance"

    This is an accessible yet detailed history of finance. The historical content was engaging and was the sort of thing that you've probably never heard about, even if you are a history buff (as I am). Even with extremely limited background knowledge, I had no trouble following along and yet it was in-depth enough to hold my attention. Despite the subject matter, it doesn't get wrapped up in numbers so that it gets tedious to hear in audio format, unlike many other books about financial matters.

    The narration was truly excellent. Easy to understand and I can't remember even a single pronunciation error, which I cannot say about almost any other audiobook I've listened to.

    Overall, I would highly recommend it - the historical aspect is interesting regardless of the level of interest a person may have in financial systems and the details about stocks, bonds, currency, etc. are there for those who are already knowledgeable about the subject.

    A small note is that the writing on the book was completed in May 2008, so the parts about the late 2007/early 2008 subprime mortgage problems are sort of strange and feel incomplete, seeing as he didn't know that the crisis would escalate just a few months later. He doesn't make any predictions, but it is still a bit strange to read an assessment of the situation just before the worst of it really hit. If you know more about that crisis than I do (I am admittedly not very knowledgeable about it), you may find those discussions particularly interesting.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B Franklin Los Angeles, CA United States 04-10-14
    B Franklin Los Angeles, CA United States 04-10-14
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    "Scatter brained and disorganized"
    Any additional comments?

    Thought this book jumped around too much. From the description, I thought it was going to be more of a history of money going in chronological order, but instead, it jumps from financial idea to financial idea.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott La Vista, NE, United States 09-07-12
    Scott La Vista, NE, United States 09-07-12
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    "One of the best "reads" about finance"
    What did you love best about The Ascent of Money?

    I loved how the author was able to explain not just the types of finance and how they evolved but also in history the triumphs and pit-falls of each type. In great detail he is able to explain why certain events happen the way they did and the impact they had on the world. Especially interesting is how new financial engines are able to make profit, and why the go bust (like the housing bubble of 2007).


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, but I am very ADD and hardly anything will every want me inspire me to sit down especially if its a 10+ hour book. I would listen to this book on my way to and from work each day in roughly 30 minutes blocks and I can tell you that the time flew by.


    Any additional comments?

    You have to be okay with at times some dry parts as this is a book on finance, however 85-90% of this book is very interesting. Also you have to be okay with British "odd" pronunciation of words such as hoo-mans for humans, homo-sap-eons for homosapions, and other small vernacular differences.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darkcoffee Allen, TX, United States 12-26-10
    Darkcoffee Allen, TX, United States 12-26-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Part one tour de force; part two slower going"

    The first chapters (up through Ferguson's elucidating chapter on how insurance works) is a wonderfully clear account of how financial systems evolved and how they work. Unfortunate, Ferguson gets on a few obvious personal hobby-horses in the last half of the book and if you don't agree with his politics (he makes a point of calling American Republicans idiots, which immediately alienates half his audience to no purpose, especially on a subject such as this. One supposes he is attempting to keep his academic Facebook friends list from going down). In any case, there are some excellent insights and generally good writing throughout and the book is definitely a worthwhile listen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jholden 06-02-09
    jholden 06-02-09
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    "A worthy use of a credit"

    This book is timely and packed with information. The author puts our current "situation" in a historical context that proves very illuminating. I will be re-listening to the whole thing.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    modeknit St. Paul, MN 04-06-11
    modeknit St. Paul, MN 04-06-11 Member Since 2014
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    "Conservative Flavor"

    There's a strong, yet subtle conservative tinge to this entire book, which I found disconcerting and at times inflammatory. Ferguson hates Unions, that's clear, and in a leitmotif blames them over and over for various financial down turns.

    I should have done my homework before buying this book. It's not that I don't like to hear several sides of an issue - I do - but I found his need to politicize many aspects of finance troubling. Not the most enjoyable read I've listened to.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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    Ajit westford, MA, USA 08-15-09
    Ajit westford, MA, USA 08-15-09
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    "Very nice"

    A very interesting and engrossing history of finance. Narration is also very good. I would recommend it for individuals with non-finance background wanting to learn a little about the world of finance and how it got to be the way it is.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
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    Kevin 08-07-14
    Kevin 08-07-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Dense - but informative"

    I was a liberal art major in College. Money, to me, just sort of "was." Mr. Ferguson takes the listener through a delightful history of money and economy and allows one to see how we got where we are.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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