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Publisher's Summary

The cohost of the popular NPR podcast Planet Money provides a well-researched, entertaining, somewhat irreverent look at how money is a made-up thing that has evolved over time to suit humanity's changing needs.

Money only works because we all agree to believe in it. In Money, Jacob Goldstein shows how money is a useful fiction that has shaped societies for thousands of years, from the rise of coins in ancient Greece to the first stock market in Amsterdam to the emergence of shadow banking in the 21st century.

At the heart of the story are the fringe thinkers and world leaders who reimagined money. Kublai Khan, the Mongol emperor, created paper money backed by nothing, centuries before it appeared in the West. John Law, a professional gambler and convicted murderer, brought modern money to France (and destroyed the country's economy). The cypherpunks, a group of radical libertarian computer programmers, paved the way for bitcoin.

One thing they all realized: What counts as money (and what doesn't) is the result of choices we make, and those choices have a profound effect on who gets more stuff and who gets less, who gets to take risks when times are good, and who gets screwed when things go bad.

Lively, accessible, and full of interesting details (like the 43-pound copper coins that 17th-century Swedes carried strapped to their backs), Money is the story of the choices that gave us money as we know it today.

©2020 AG Prospect, LLC (P)2020 Hachette Books

Critic Reviews

A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Selection in Business & Economics

"Jacob Goldstein makes the complexities of economics and monetary policy not just comprehensible, but also genuinely fascinating. Charting the history of money becomes a lens through which to understand human history, and how we arrived at now." (John Green, number one New York Times best-selling author of Turtles All the Way Down and The Fault in Our Stars)

"Jacob Goldstein of 'Planet Money' has a remarkable gift for making complicated economic issues beguilingly simple. He has written a wonderfully entertaining, freewheeling history of money, told with all the verve and wit and smart insights that have made his NPR show such a success." (Liaquat Ahamed, author of Pulitzer Prize winner Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World)

"Goldstein is a master storyteller who weaves an intriguing tale of how money and economic systems rose, fell, and rose again. In his hands, money disappears and the personalities and motives of centuries-old influencers emerge in vivid detail to paint a picture of the history that has given us our current monetary system." (Betsey Stevenson, professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan)

What listeners say about Money

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Borrow and print your way into prosperity.

“ Give me control of a nation’s monetary system and I care not who writes their laws” - Mayer Rothschild.

This author strongly advocates for expansion of the money supply which by definition IS inflation and always results in the loss of purchasing power of the currency in rising prices. The low point of the book is when he refers to FDR as “genius”. Average unemployment rate from 1933-1940 was 18.58% is “genius”. Most people have never heard of the depression of 1920-1921. That’s because the government stayed out of it and allow the market to work it out quickly.

Expansion of the currency supply as advocated by the author has already happened many times throughout history always with the same result. Hyperinflation and eventually the death of that currency. Go and buy a sheet of plywood at Home Depot and you will see that it has tripled in price in the last 12 months ($75/sheet). This is only the beginning - buckle up.

The only reason I gave this book one star is because it does have some very interesting early history on money that I was not aware of. Everything else this author advocates foolishness.

7 people found this helpful

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well researched and written but,

I could have done without the swearing. The author seems to be trying to get street cred, but that's not going to happen in an economics book . Would have recommended to my kids when they get to high school if it wasn't for the low brow language.

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Phenomenal!!

Instantly one of the best finance, econ, or history books of all time! He explains everything so clearly and effortlessly as a great teacher should. He explains with stories about people as any great nonfiction writer does. The tone is approachable but the research thorough. He covers every topic as he should, but doesn't waste the reader's time and attention with narratives they've heard countless times before. He doesn't make factual missteps or get pulled into the biases of most other authors on this topic. Many authors have tried this grand history of money book before, for centuries. They all come up short. This is the one! Better than Keynes, Friedman, Bagehot, Groseclose, Rothbard, or any of the rest. As a professor of monetary economics myself, I confess, I wish I had been clever enough to write it myself.

3 people found this helpful

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Pretty good

Was pleasant to listen to, gave brief overview on the history of money and also touched on Bitcoin. It was an interesting listen and prompted me to look for other books on the subject.

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Money as a fascinating human story

Who knew that the history of money could be so intriguing, and so full of weird and wonderful stories? This book educates while managing to be thoroughly entertaining. The author's narration is as enthusiastic and energetic as the text itself. Altogether a terrific listen. I didn't want it to end!

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Caused me to consider money in a new light.

I highly Recommend this book. Well done. Entertaining, challenging some assumptions I hold reinforcing others.

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Very educational and interesting!

I have been an avid listener for the Planet Money podcast, so maybe I am biased, but I really enjoyed this book! Jacob has made the history of money entertaining yet informative. I understand that each of the chapter of this book should probably have a book or 2 by itself, but I think that is for readers to dig in at their discretion. As far as a brief history of money goes, this book has been a good read. Keep it going!

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What's bitcoin, why not gold, MMT who?

"Money" is a great primer for those hoping better understand monetary theory without any math.

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My mind is blown!

I thought I understood money before... but now I realize that I never really understood money at all. This book is eye-opening and fascinating. A must-read for anyone who makes, spends, or manages money.

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A deceptively lighthearted argument for MMT

After reading the much longer Ascent of Money, here is a refreshingly concise and coherent explanation of the evolution of money. But initially presented as an innocuous and objective history, the author progresses steadily towards a no holds barred argument for MMT and centrally planned economies.

Worth reading, but with a cautious mind.

1 person found this helpful