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Editorial 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

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great Job of conveying some complicated concepts

What did you love best about The Ascent of Money?

The author did a great job in using stories to tell the story of the history of the financial system and the history of economics. Really well written. I enjoyed it.

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

This is probably not a book that you will want to listen to in one sitting, however, it is a book that you will want to listen to again. There is so much material -- covering numerous economic concepts and such a broad swath of history it is impossible to catch it all the first time through. However, it is also one of those you probably will not want to re-listen too right after you finish it the first time -- you may need a little break from the dense material!

Any additional comments?

The author did a really good job of making some dense and boring concepts understandable and interesting!

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  • aaron
  • Portland, OR
  • 04-01-13

Good luck to get past the halfway point.

Would you try another book from Niall Ferguson and/or Simon Prebble?

I would not purchase another book from Niall Ferguson.

What was most disappointing about Niall Ferguson’s story?

That he choose to interweave his ideological opinion in a supposed historical narrative. Poor decision.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Not really. His voice has a bit too much bass for an audiobook in my opinion.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Ascent of Money?

Taken out the political/ideological bent from the author, and stopped the book at present time.

Any additional comments?

The beginning chapters of the book are rather intriguing. However, as soon as the author gets to present time the book goes down hill fast.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

educational

Would you listen to The Ascent of Money again? Why?

I've found this to be educational and provides a very good concept of banking and Government economic systems, Bottomline, the captialist or any economic market is not God made and does not act efficiently.

What did you like best about this story?

Great understand of economic systems and results of those decisions

Have you listened to any of Simon Prebble’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

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

NO

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  • drbob34474
  • Ocala, Florida, United States
  • 03-16-13

Financial neophyte

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

As someone who knows practically nothing about finance, stocks, bonds, etc or why the world is in such dire financial straits, I found the second half of this book invaluable. It is clear, concise layman's language with lively discussion. I enjoyed the first half's history lesson even more. It explains why, how, where, and when money started to be used, what was considered money; the evolution of finance through the middle ages, etc. Good book for the non business guy.

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  • Ryan
  • San Francisco, CA, United States
  • 03-12-13

A good overview of financial concepts and history

Would you listen to The Ascent of Money again? Why?

Sure, it was an interesting listen. Makes you a bit more aware of all the background of the financial world.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Ascent of Money?

Not really sure if there was a "memorable" part, but the accounts of how leveraged people and cities become in the past and the rates at which returns are given is a bit mind-boggling.

What does Simon Prebble bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I think there's a continued interest in listening to books like this rather than reading them. Sometimes the concepts on paper don't seem as interesting as someone vocalizing it.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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The Use and Abuse of Money and Markets

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book to a friend with a serious interest in the financial system. The details of some financial crises' are more than a casual listener would care to endure. The origins and uses of money and markets through the 18th century should be interesting to many listeners.

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Economics Can Be Interesting

Any additional comments?

It is not possible to understand Economics without understanding money. This book is a great place to start. And Niall Ferguson makes it interesting too!

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  • Jack
  • Tarpon Springs, FL, United States
  • 01-14-13

Interesting History

What made the experience of listening to The Ascent of Money the most enjoyable?

I enjoy economics and the history of money gives a great insight to what is happening in the world today.

What other book might you compare The Ascent of Money to and why?

Any type of investing books, because all investments strive from money and its uses.

Which scene was your favorite?

I enjoy the first experiments with paper money.

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

No, enjoy listening in two hour sessions.

Any additional comments?

Would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys economics.

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  • rodi
  • NORWALK, CT, United States
  • 12-28-12

The history of money made interesting

I enjoyed listening to this book very much! It was an excellent breakdown of the various economic stages the world has gone through. I would listen to it again.

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  • Abdulrahman
  • Springfield Gardens, NY, United States
  • 12-19-12

Enjoyable to listen to

If you could sum up The Ascent of Money in three words, what would they be?

Very enjoyable to listen to. I very much liked the narration by Simon Prebble.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Ascent of Money?

What money meant for different civilizations, religions, and people is astonishing.

Have you listened to any of Simon Prebble’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

Any additional comments?

The idea of this book is excellent. It gives a good picture on how the need for banking started.