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Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market Paperback – October 21, 2009
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Bagehot was a very interesting person, described as a "British journalist, businessman, and essayist, who wrote extensively about government, economics, and literature". In 1860 he became the third editor-in-chief of The Economist (of which two articles are quoted in full in Lombard Street), and he wrote books on the English Constitution, physics and politics, and other topics. In fact, The Economist had been established by Bagehot's father-in-law, James Wilson, in 1843, so he was clearly an important man of ideas of his time and is well represented by this book.
Many of the reviews of the NuVision publication (and other printings) of this edition come down hard on its many printing errors. Indeed, the publishers - which claim to specialise in "rare, out-of-print books still in demand" - do not do a good job with the reproduction of the text, which appears to have been transcribed from some sort of scanning software that works about 95% of the time. Problems arise with columns of numbers, which are no longer properly aligned, and reading the text requires some imagination and intuition to get by (the word "in" is represented by "m", which is a run-together of those two letters). But this is a relatively minor problem, and adds a bit to the colour of reading this archaic (yet curiously relevant) piece of finance history.
Lombard Street is essential reading for those interested in economic history, and even more so, for readers interested in the history of money and banking. As such it would of course deserve five stars, because it is one of the classics on this subject. However,
I rated the book with four stars from the perspective of the general reader. Money and banking has changed so much since the 1870's that Bagehot's book is much less relevant, and the style is on the dry side.
It's full of obvious missing spaces so that words run together, likethesewords.
This happens on almost every page. The author, Walter Bagehot, includes some actual balance sheets from the Bank of England as examples. Yet Echo Library fails to align the figures into columns. Instead it appears as a bunch of jibberish.
It appears that Echo Library somehow acquired a text file of the book, perhaps as a Word document or something, and then simply output that onto paper and binder, and then shipped the books, without even glancing at the results, let alone proof reading it.
Also, apparently to save paper, the publisher made the type size a bit small, and made the page column a bit wide. That saves paper alright, and makes it a thinner book, but it makes it harder to read. But it's still worth reading because Bagehot is so good.
MY RECOMMENDATION: It's an excellent writing by Bagehot, first class. But buy it by another publisher.