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War and Gold: A Five-Hundred-Year History of Empires, Adventures, and Debt Hardcover – May 27, 2014
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Several centuries ago, a Spanish chronicler referred to his countrymen’s lust for gold as a “disease of the mind and soul.” As this fascinating survey reveals, this lust to accumulate gold and silver that began with the conquest of the Americas has proved to be both a blessing and a curse. The plundering of the wealth of several indigenous civilizations made the Spanish Empire the greatest power in Europe. Yet it eventually led to the demise of Spanish power, as incessant warfare to defend its colonial possessions and trade routes bankrupted the treasury. Furthermore, the insertion of massive amounts of gold and silver into the European economy fueled rampant inflation. On the other hand, the use of gold as a standard to gauge the value of paper money was a vital source of economic stability, and some economists still mourn the abandonment of that standard. This is an easily digestible melding of history and economics that helps explain both the past and present sources of wealth and national conflicts. --Jay Freeman
"War and Gold is a chronicle of fiscal ruination and redemption, with the emphasis on the former Mr. Kwarteng, a heroic reader, has compiled a wonderful bibliography and gathered a colorful grouping of monetary characters to people his chapters.” James Grant, Wall Street Journal
This near-perfect volume appears with almost preternaturally perfect timing around the centenary of the beginning of World War I War and Gold is a compelling successor to Liaquat Ahamed's delightful and invaluable The Lords of Finance, awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in history. Kwarteng delivers up a successor volume worthy of such a prize. It extends Ahamed's temporal framework by a factor of ten, to 500 years. Kwarteng, too, has compelling narrative virtuosity. His book is full of dramatic, charming, often wry vignettes of fascinating characters heroes and villains, adventurers and knaves spinning around, and off, the axis of the gold standard, in war and in peace.” Ralph Benko, Forbes.com
This carefully documented, scholarly, well-written work provides an account of the development of international financial institutions over the past five centuries Overall, the book is a captivating narrative of monetary history that starts and ends with gold.” CHOICE
A well-written history of money...It's refreshing to read such a concise and cutting book” Jim Landers, Dallas Morning News
"War and Gold' offers fresh, big-picture perspective on issues as tangible as our wallets' contents.” Alan Wallace, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
"The title's implications aside, this is really a history of moneythoroughly satisfying and remarkably accessible...While John Kenneth Galbraith's 1975 Money: Whence it Came, Where It Went remains the subject's touchstone, Kwarteng superbly brings that volume up to date in explaining the almost unexplainable." Publishers Weekly, starred review
Absorbing a fascinating, lucid and serious history of money, from the discovery of the wealth of the Americas to the present financial crisis.”The Times (UK)
Enormously entertaining so engagingly written that readers of all political persuasions should enjoy it.”Sunday Times (UK)
This clever history of money weighs its enduring ability to destabilise society For people brought up in the internet age, the concept of an economy propped up by a rock, a hill, a mountain of gold might seem quirky. If so, Kwarteng's detailed tracking of the shift from gold to paper will come as a revelation . Kwarteng might not know how to stabilise a financial system that floats on credit, but he certainly understands the forces and the mistakes that have led to that destabilisation.”The Observer (UK)
Few stones are left unlifted in this study The result is a retelling from a senior, political, financial viewpoint. It's high table or, to give a more modern description, c-suite stuff.”The Independent (UK)
A complicated story well told, from which financial lessons emerge naturally without Kwarteng finding it necessary to bludgeon the reader with his message.” Financial Times (UK)
A meaty, thoughtful, and well-written book”Literary Review
Kwarteng is thorough and insightful, weaving a narrative that transports the reader convincingly through time and place. He points out that victory has just as much financial cost as defeat.”London Evening Standard
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My biggest quibble is my personal belief that any attempt to write history become mere punditry when the events are more recent than 25 years in the past. Nothing an author can do about this, history simply need to age a couple of decades before it can be decanted.