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Publisher's Summary

From ancient currency to Adam Smith, from the gold standard to shadow banking and the Great Recession: a sweeping historical epic that traces the development and evolution of one of humankind’s greatest inventions.

What is money, and how does it work? In this tour de force of political, cultural and economic history, Felix Martin challenges nothing less than our conventional understanding of money. He describes how the Western idea of money emerged from interactions between Mesopotamia and ancient Greece and was shaped over the centuries by tensions between sovereigns and the emerging middle classes. He explores the extraordinary diversity of the world’s monetary systems, from the Pacific island of Yap, where value was once measured by immovable stones, to the currency of today that exists solely on globally connected computer screens. Martin shows that money has always been a deeply political instrument, and that it is our failure to remember this that led to the crisis in our financial system and so to the Great Recession. He concludes with practical solutions to our current pressing, money-based problems.

Money skips nimbly among such far-ranging topics as John Locke’s disastrous excursion into economic policy, Montesquieu’s faith in finance to discipline the power of kings, the social organization of ancient Sparta and the Soviet Union’s ill-fated attempt to abolish money and banking altogether. Throughout, Martin makes vivid sense of a chaotic and sometimes incoherent system - the everyday currency that we all share - in the clearest and most stimulating terms. This is a magisterial work of history and economics, with profound implications for the world today.

©2014 Felix Martin (P)2014 Random House Audio

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Philo
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 03-19-14

A thoughtful journey with flashes of insight

The book's opening (and various later visitations) takes a reasonably interesting idea: e.g., the Yap islanders' use of largely stationary stones as money (seen many times in other books), and beats it to death. Setting this aside, the book takes a fascinating walk through money's basic concepts as played out in well-lit historic scenes. Watch the Roman Empire struggle through a credit bubble and lender bailout. Watch the allowance of a private "crypto" family of unofficial currencies destabilize ancient China, first playing out as the brilliant scheme of court philosophers' sub-celestial monetary harmony is shaken, finally as the crypto financiers acquire political power and challenge the centers of power. Such things unfold page after page with deft, clever observations sprinkled throughout.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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End was annoying

Good book. End annoying. He has an argument with himself which he won. Lol. Annoying writing style.

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A book that will make you think and contemplate

"Money" is written from a historical perspective but certainly has some good analysis and interpretations of events and the broader course of history, with regards to money.
It certainly isn't a biography of those who amassed large sums of money, but more on the ideas, development, adoption and evolution of money.

Maryin will push how you see money and where it came from; he will challenge your conceptions using other disciplines -- like history, anthropology, political science, philosophy and even science to name a few -- as opposed to the usual vantage point of business, commerce and economics.

The book is very accessible in the way it's written, and moreover, it does employ interesting writing styles by way of analogies, narrating and story telling to dialogue pieces.
It also has a fair bit of misdirection -- so you may feel convinced until you read/listen on to the next part or chapter where you are equally convinced of the other side of the argument (and the arguments aren't necessarily simple or two sides, you find yourself juggling more multidimensional ideas at times). That kept me on edge at times but helps give a fairer picture.

Overall I loved the book and I would recommend it to anyone with a sense of curiosity and definitely to anyone who gets into conversations about money, politics, economics, "the debt", gold, the meaning of money and desires and their philosophy and other such lively topics.

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  • E
  • 01-21-17

Wonderful book must be read

The author walks us through the history of money and make us to think about it

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THE best book on monry

a remarkably insightful and well researched history of money. perspectives that every investor will find useful.

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Difficult to imagine how it could be worse

This is but a piece of highly biased and opinionated leftist political propaganda trying to come across as "the truth". The last chapter alone is the most blatant piece of demagoguery I've come across in decades. To top it all, someone forgot to tell the idiotic narrator that this is not a spooky story to frighten small children.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Probably the Best audiobook I've heard on popular Econ

Just really great all around both in its ideas and the clarity in which it expresses them

0 of 1 people found this review helpful