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Popes and Bankers: A Cultural History of Credit and Debt, from Aristotle to AIG Paperback – March 16, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595552731
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595552730
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,005,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jack Cashill has written for The WSJ, Washington Post, Weekly Standard, and regularly in the American Thinker and WorldNetDaily. Recent books include Hoodwinked, Sucker Punch, and What’s The Matter With California. Jack has a Ph.D. from Purdue.


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Customer Reviews

I recommend this book without hesitation to anyone who wants a good day's reading on a subject that is surprisingly interesting.
Amazon Customer
I am very into reading economics and history, and my bookshelf is jam packed with books on the subject from over-simplistic to post-grad-level complexity.
Joel Avrunin
To be kind, I wouldn't call this book is not an assault on one political party or point-of-view, but it is definitely written with a right wing bias.
Loren Woirhaye

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Beth on March 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
One of the things Mr. Cashill is known for is illuminating the true circumstances around events which others have spun to produce a desired outcome. Reading his retelling of these stories has the effect of upending much of what you thought you knew.
In this particular book he takes the time period from Aristotle to present day and successfully strings together the intriguing stories into a narrative that was a joy to read.
What I found particularly interesting were the historical developments related to anti-Semitism; beginning with the role of philosophers, theologians, and institutions trying to grapple with the issue of profit making from loans(rather than from producing goods) and their pronouncements regarding the morality of this activity, contrasted with those such as Marx who would find useful the negative associations related to the the success of Jews in European finance "huckstering" to support their agendas.
The book does a very good job of explaining the development of credit dependency and the complex financial products brought into being without making your eyes glaze over. In fact, it's quite fascinating.
It is not at all a dark view of history, but a web of human action covering a range of motivations from the desire to create a just and moral society to the expansion of wealth for all to the exploitation for personal gain or ideological purpose. And the effect is kind of heart wrenching. There are wonderful surprises throughout which bring a smile to your face, such as Institutes having been written by John Calvin at age 26.
Not to be missed.
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32 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn Uyemura VINE VOICE on May 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The writing here is sharp and witty, with almost every paragraph ending in some sort of a zinger, often connecting ancient history to some current event. And the scope and depth of the cultural history included here is astonishing, from a synopsis of The Inferno and The Merchant of Venice to paraphrases of the latest financial best-sellers, with some Flannery O'Connor thrown in for good measure. The writer is obviously a talented and erudite man.

The first thing that puzzled me, however, is that this book is published by Thomas Nelson, mainly known as a Bible publisher based in Nashville. Huh, that's odd. And then the book begins with an anecdote about a woman who defaults on her over-priced mortgage, the punch line of which is that her problem is that she is a prodigal.

The history of debt and credit then is undertaken, and the point is that both Judaism and Catholicism, as well as much of secular ancient thought, considered money-lending to be a serious sin. The sin of usury was roundly condemned, and it meant not the charging of excessive interest, but the charging of interest at all. In its place, the rich were recommended to give generously to the poor, not to entrap them in pay day loans.

While this point comes across loud and clear throughout the historical section of the book (and while virtually no mention is made of any ancient moral precepts condemning the poor for trying to scrape by through borrowing money), the author strains to make the point that it is the fault of greedy borrowers, rather than greedy lenders, that is really the problem that tanked the economy.

His history of the US economy may be considered somewhat less than objective, since Murray Rothbard is his primary source.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By World Traveler on April 22, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very pleasant surprise - highly recommended. Light in tone, very broad in scope of subjects and disciplines touched on (truly multidisciplinary in approach). This entertaining and informative book presents a (subjective) approach to understanding the "Great Recession's" roots in credit and debt, economic history and interesting people. Author uses various books for each chapter, which he seems to summarize and bring out most salient information. Author does an excellent job of explaining and simplifying complex issues.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Brett Farrell VINE VOICE on May 2, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an interesting and fast paced romp through the world of economics. You could never use this book as reference should you be writing a report on the history of money however. It does not start as much but definitely leans heavily towards a biased prospective of non-governmental regulation and conservative values. I can't imagine the author is anything but a libertarian. There is nothing wrong with that (depending on whom you ask anyway) but it definitely leans very heavily in that direction and if you were looking for an impartial view on the current mess, you won't find it here. It makes some very good arguments though.
The book was a good read and I couldn't put it down. It's certainly motivated me to do some of my own historical research into past methods of banking and lending and given me an interesting view and starting point.
If you are looking for an in-depth look into financial histories, this is not it. It is merely highlights of economics as they were formed and affected the western world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kara Lorin-Basiga on September 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
Whew! So it took how many months to render a review on this one.

Popes and bankers is a good book to read if you are quick to adapt to history notes and dates. I also recommend this book if history is your favorite lesson way back in school. I give a five star for how the author put all of the pieces together. The author actually did a very good job by giving a thorough analysis on the history of credit and debt and I could say that indeed the heavy historical data are a hundred and one percent reliable.

For a reader like me who is not as appreciative of history, and since this book is bombarded with dates, I found myself lost every time, mostly at the middle of every chapter. I found myself always looking for the last historical note so I can piece it with the next chapter and put the story together. This book could not be put down and then get back to reading it during my next free time because by then I would not understand what I'm reading again.

This book was a complimentary copy from Book Sneeze which I got for free in exchange for my review.
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