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The History of Money Paperback – March 10, 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Much of the information Weatherford presents is often misrepresented. One example of his misrepresentations is the US dollar has been in constant decline versus the price of gold starting from $35 an ounce in 1971 to $400 an ounce in 1995 and that gold has maintained its purchasing power. Not so. The price of gold peaked in January, 1980 at over $850 and has been in a deflationary trend along with other commodities for about fifteen years. Its early 2002 price is now about $280-290 an ounce. In the late 1930's, an American could buy a very nice mid-size car for about twenty ounces of gold or about $700.00. Even in 1995 using the $400 price, you could barely buy the cheapest new car on the market for the same weight in gold. Weatherford bemoans Nixon's actions to cut the dollar's final link with the dollar as inflationary despite the fact that it was inflation of the late 1960's and the gold drain from the treasury to other foriegn governments that would force the break in the first place. Other problems involve the supposive large declines in prices in the 19th century, with the starting points always during periods of war and high prices and the belief that the state (wildcat) banking period was really more stable than history says, which leads one to wonder what happened during the banking panics of 1819, 1837, and 1857?
Some information Weatherford presents is just wrong.Read more ›
Jack Weatherford is an anthropologist, not an economist, so it is not surprising that he lingers over certain details that don't have a lot to do with his ostensible subject. Thus we are treated to the grisly spectacle of an Aztec human sacrifice, and how the Peruvian Indians who mine the silver that enriches others reconcile themselves to their poor and hazardous lives. Yet he does not stray far, and his depiction of the squeezing of the citizens of Rome for more and more taxes by successive emperors (plus their dilution of the currency) that led to the destruction of the free small-holding and business-owning classes, and with them the Empire, is chilling and instructive. The barbarians were kinder: they didn't use money.
The inventions of banking and of merchants' instruments (such as bills of exchange) are discussed, as well as the first national banks, in explaining the advent of paper money, the next great innovation.Read more ›
One symptom of the problems described above is that large portions are devoted to subjects other than money. For example, the author uses the first three pages after the introduction to describe Aztec ritual sacrifice in literally gory detail before proceeding on to the use of cocao beans as commodity money. I think that's meant to be what they used to call in show business a "grabber," but for the reader expecting to learn about money, it's a distraction. Another problem is that the author's grasp of modern economics is shaky at best, and especially in the latter part of the book, he'll make a point and then repeat himself, much as an undergraduate trying to extend the length of a term paper that's run a few pages short.
And yet, there's also some interesting and oddly convincing tidbits of information here. The author states that L. Frank Baum's 1900 book "The Wizard of Oz" is really a parable about the need for a bimetallic dollar based on both gold and silver. But even as it strikes you that this is an interesting bit of trivia, you realize that it's only a bit of trivia and has little larger significance.
If you're looking for a economic history of money, you should look elsewhere. If you're interested in the cultural and sociological impact of money, this may be more to your liking, though I think it still falls short.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you are interested in History you have to read this one!! I read certain parts over again, the knowledge from this book will carry you far. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Ashanti
This is a book I would recommend for someone who wants to see history through a unique perspective. Weatherford has created a very intriguing view on money. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Ethan Hurt
AP World History Review: The History of Money by Jack Weatherford is a good interpretation of the changes and continuities of money throughout many years. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Eric M. Cardinal
Such a fine book. So accessible, yet so researched. The chapter on the origins of money in ancient Lydia (near ancient Troy) is unforgettable. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Steve Sewall
I was very disappointed by this book and do not think it is worth the time it takes to read.
I bought it because I've read some interesting things about the anthropology... Read more