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The Ascent of Money: The Financial History of the World (2009)

Niall Ferguson , Adrian Pennink  |  NR |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Niall Ferguson
  • Directors: Adrian Pennink
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: September 1, 2009
  • Run Time: 240 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,349 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

In the four-hour version of THE ASCENT OF MONEY, historian and author Niall Ferguson seeks to explain the financial history of the world, exploring how our complex system of global finance evolved over the centuries, how money has shaped the course of human affairs and how the mechanics of this economic system work to create seemingly unlimited wealth-or catastrophic loss.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating December 6, 2009
Professor Niall Ferguson really shines in this presentation. His vibrant animation and his laymen's terms make the finanical history of the world quite comprehensible. The four hours of this work give ample examples of how money and trade were handled in our past (not very well!). Ferguson always manages to appear in that country he is talking about: Peru, Italy, Spain, Algeria, China, New York, to give primary source examples of our finanical history, such as 15th-century handwritten tax records. This documentary is well worth the four hours to sit through and absorb.

General history with the application of mathematics, the science of interest-earning and speculation, the making of coins and paper money and of course ample examples of finanical crashes, depressions and recession come up in this presentation with reasons for the demise. The rise of the Chinese economy, according to Ferguson, is our next biggest financial threat.

He not only understands the stock market and finance, but also history, and together Ferguson writes a captivating review of the financial history of the world. A lot of wars were waged over money.

The earliest lenders of money were Jews, who even in medieval Venice had to wear yellow caps and live in their own ghettos outside of the town square. The reason Jews had become so prevalent in money lending is because in the Catholic church money lending was considered a sin. Aha! That opens up a lot of other follow-up questions to our history. Ferguson quotes several biblical passages for his work. In the second episode we learn why the Jews became hated by the German Reich: the Germans blamed the Jewish bankers for a failing stock market across Europe. We see history and finance blend into one. This is all so fascinating.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear telling of a critical story August 2, 2009
PBS viewers will recognize this offering. Ferguson is charming and persuasive. He makes the story something that even my twelve-year old can understand, without "talking down". He covers the full range of financial dealings around the globe, from Wall Street to microfinance. His case study of Argentina makes a difficult story relatively simple yet not simplistic. He positively critiques Hernando de Soto's approach ot providing title to land to the poor as a means of securing collateral-based loans and shows where small, uncollaterized loans can work even more effectively.

Great as a serious academic yet never boring treatment of "high" and "low" finance. Should be required for most college majors.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than i expected December 10, 2009
The series ( buy the 4 hour version only) is well done. It is not a big budget show like some of the other econo/history series in the past (i.e. 'The Shape of the World', etc) but works very well for those who like this kind of subject. Here's why I liked it;

a) It is filmed in full screen and fills your entire TV. This certainly helps when some of the photography is of expansive vistas or grand palaces and gives the show an overall big feel.

b) Ferguson does considerable traveling in this show and makes it to all the high spots. The silver mines of the Andes. Hong Kong, London. Paris. Amsterdam, Florence, Pisa, Venice, and thumbing through rare documents such as the Medici family ledgers. Just the places and things you would expect in such a program.

c) Ferguson interviews some impressive people for the show. Most especially the very rare and ultra blue-blood Fourth Baron Jacob De Rothschild. There they are, the two of them strolling through the jaw dropping splendors of Baron Jacob's palace, Waddesdon Manor, reminisceing about his unbelievably wealthy family. It's incredible that anyone like him still exists in our increasingly socialized world. For me these scenes alone were worth the price of the dvd.

If I would make any changes to the show I would spend less time on recent events ( already documented to distraction) and more on the history leading up to the present. Half of the 4 hours are devoted to recent events like Katrina and the 2008 crash.

I am certainly glad I bought it !!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful teaching tool July 13, 2010
Verified Purchase
I bought this DVD for my husband, a professor of economics. He has used it in one of his classes, and has found it not only a clear explanation of economic matters, but also one that engages the students. Niall Ferguson presents the material in as interesting a manner as one can when dealing with economics. (That's me, the non-economist, speaking.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best DVD Series on Money To Be Found Anywhere November 9, 2012
Verified Purchase
I majored in international finance in graduate school. However, I ended up working in another industry. After the banking crash, I wanted to know more about not only what happened, but why it happened. Since my grad school training didn't teach me much about international financial crises, I have read book after book on the banking crash as well as many articles. This book provides an excellent history of money, and how it has evolved over the years from gold and silver coins to electronic digits stored in a computer. Professor Niall Ferguson manages to explain a complex subject in an interesting and understandable way. I was captivated watching the entire series the first time I saw it on PBS. You will too. Toward the end of the series, Professor Ferguson explains how we got into the current banking crises. Electronic storage and trading of money has made it possible to fool a lot of people through the use of complexity and subterfuge. I highly recommend this series to anyone with an inquiring mind.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ascent of Money
Buy it, watch it, share it. An incredible journey through the history of money. While I did indeed watch this on the PBS satellite some time ago, it is certainly worthwhile to... Read more
Published 2 months ago by attaboy
5.0 out of 5 stars According to Niall Ferguson
Pretty impressive history lesson, I am no historian and was not around before 1961, But I think there are a couple of incorrect interpretations, apart from that 5 stars.
Published 4 months ago by Scott D. Universita
5.0 out of 5 stars SUPERB!
Never before have I seen so much useful information packed into one program.
I have never seen anything else like it.
Recommended to every human being on the earth. ASAP!
Published 4 months ago by Joseph
5.0 out of 5 stars The best introduction to finances
Mr. Nial Ferguson has a wonderful ability to find the "truth" and state it in a concise manner in these busy times and tells an outstanding history of how finances and... Read more
Published 7 months ago
5.0 out of 5 stars Good job Mr. !
As far as I know this is the only documentary of its kind and I must tell you I was blown away! Great job! Keep it up!
Published 14 months ago by Mickey Dekic
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ascent of Money: The Financial History of the World
A must and a good read. It reveals information you never thought you would see in print. A good book.
Published 17 months ago by Fernando Gonzalez
5.0 out of 5 stars Good teaching tool for Econ
I'd seen this piece streaming on PBS a couple of years ago while looking for teaching tools for a high school Economics class. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jenne R. Kekoolani
4.0 out of 5 stars The Ascent of Money: The Financial History of the world
Good material, very didactic and self explainable. I just would like to complain about the DVD region; it does not work in US. I have to buy a multi region DVD to see the CD
Published 20 months ago by German Alvarez
5.0 out of 5 stars If you wonder WTF happened to our financial system...
The Ascent of Money explains it all, and with excellent production values. My high school seniors will be watching all segments of this video. Read more
Published 23 months ago by A. J. Meblin
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening
Learned a lot from this series. I got it because I previously watched the other series War of the World by the same historian and was duly impressed and enjoyed that. Read more
Published on January 27, 2012 by DeeDee
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