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Popes and Bankers: A Cultural History of Credit and Debt, from Aristotle to AIG Paperback – March 15, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jack Cashill is an investigative journalist who has written for Fortune, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Weekly Standard, AmericanThinker.com, and WorldNetDaily. He is the author of First Strike, Ron Brown's Body, Hoodwinked, Sucker Punch, What's the Matter with California?, and Deconstructing Obama.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595552731
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595552730
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #952,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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By Henri on January 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not an easy read but it is a well constructed history of usury. It exposes the complete lack of morality in the banking business.

I was particulary amused by the history of the Rothschilds and their double dealing in the funding of wars. It must rate a the lowest practice of greed by humankind. Yuk!
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