Customer Reviews: Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How We Can Break Free (Revised and Updated)
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on September 16, 2007
I have been researching this topic myself for four or five years now and am familiar with almost every other book in this genre, and I can unequivocally say that this is now the definitive work on the world's financial and banking system, the history of money and power in Western civilization, and the dire prognosis for our economy and our personal freedoms, in general, as a result. It is vastly superior to "The Creature from Jekyll Island", to compare it to one other fine book on the subject that is now outdated, both in terms of its complete historical coverage, as well as a completely up to date perspective on recent financial history and a deeply insightful analysis of our current debt crisis, why it was let out of control, and who would benefit from its ultimate unwinding. Quite frankly, looking back four to five years from now, this could be the most profound non-fiction work of our times. Robert Hemphill, Credit Manager for the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta, when speaking on the same topic as this book, stated, "It is the most important subject intelligent persons can investigate and reflect upon." I couldn't agree more, and even encourage many unintelligent persons to give it a go. The mechanics of money and finance have a profound affect on every person's life and well being, and is inextricably linked to the fabric of our society and our freedom. Yet it is almost completely ignored and poorly understood by the common man. As Henry Ford said, "It is well that the people of this nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be revolution before tomorrow morning." It's time we all started to understand what's been going on and how it will affect our immediate future.

Ellen Hodgson Brown does a remarkable job at making this subject both easily understandable and richly entertaining while not pulling any of the sordid details or facts. It's impressive in its clarity, fascinating to read, and educational for anyone who might already think they fully understand the system. Unknown to most, The Wizard of Oz was written as a parable for our monetary system. Ms. Brown takes us down that yellow brick road and shows us that the reason L. Frank Baum's timeless story resonates with us so deeply is that our own world works much the same way as the Land of Oz, with a parallel cast of characters. It lies within our power, and in this book, to find our own ruby/silver slippers, thus avoiding the crisis to find our way back home to the real utopia.
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on August 15, 2007
This is simply the most thorough, researched, and up to date book of its kind. I would call it essential to have, as the national and global economic situation is entering right now into the dramatic and tumultuous throes of the end of the 100 year or more Ponzi scheme that IS our national economy. There have been terrific books by Griffin and Mullins and quite a few others describing the origins of the monetary system that has brought us to this point of collapse and ruin; but they are 20 to 30 years old, and do not include and explain the latest machinations of the Debt/Money machine, such as derivitives, hedge funds, naked short selling, plunge protection teams, the petro dollar, the housing bubble and more. And all is explained, despite the book's historical breadth and up to date detail, in a story line narrative fashion that is personable and enjoyable, with a great sense of discovery.
The best part is the optimistic presentation of what a sane and sensible money system might look like, that is free of deception and theft from hidden corporate masters. And the solution is not a simple reversion to a sort of fundamentalist gold approach.... The subject of gold is actually explored in all of its history of past abuse and control by the same sort of masters we now have, as well as the current pitfalls we would face. Solutions are based, however, upon the ideas and practices of some of America's founders, and on workable examples based upon what a community and nation' real wealth consists of.
Can be read as a narrative, or you can jump in on any chapter and clarify a multitude of mysteries about just what levers are being pulled by the guys behind the curtain. I think the author goes in the right direction for a way out, but the book begs for a sequel dealing with the detailed design of such a plan, so it, too, does not become a trap a century later.
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on June 4, 2008
Of the thousands and thousands of books I have read in my lifetime, this is the single most important book I've ever read.

I don't care if you are liberal, conservative, Libertarian, agnostic, Christian, Muslim, black, white, red, old, young, rich, poor, unemployed, tycoon or whatever... If you love your family and your country and you want a future you can believe in, YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK.

Your mind will be shocked by the truth of how our money/banking/lending system works. Your conscience will be repelled by the evil actions taking place right under your nose; actions taken by people that you think are "respectable" and "educated" and "trustworthy."

Thankfully, by the time you reach the end of this well-researched, well-documented, well-written book, you will know exactly what we can do to fix the situation and make the world a much better place for virtually everyone - a world that is more prosperous and more secure, where opportunity abounds and we are not burdened by an ever-expanding debt monster that threatens everything we hold dear.
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on June 30, 2008
Could be the most important book you will ever read. At least this is the one that could save our nation from financial and economic ruin. I'd say that makes it important.

I've been studying this subject for years, and have been planning to write a book or two on the subject myself. Only every time I've gotten deeply into the research, I've found that someone has already written an excellent book covering the same material. This happened with Rothbard's "A Case Against the Fed", Griffin's "The Creature from Jekyll Island", Korten's "When Corporations Rule the World", Quigley's "Tragedy and Hope", Sutton, Engdahl, Skousen, and many others. I had thought the best book on the subject had been written by Stephen Zarlenga with "The Lost Science of Money" and have attended his American Monetary Institute conferences. But Ellen Brown's book tops them all!

I can't count the times I had to lay the book down and wonder how someone so recently introduced to the subject could become so astute in so many areas so quickly. She must have a brilliant mind, because I was dazzled by her comprehension and ability to put complex ideas into simple terms. What an amazing accomplishment!

The one star reviews here are seriously flawed, if not deliberately disingenuous. The book is not about the "polemics" of the "LaRouche" or any other "camp". It does not advocate Keynesian or "socialist" solutions. It advocates common sense and practical solutions. Such labeling is spurious and violates rules for civilized debate and discussion. It is also curious that one could so thoroughly pick out all of the two or three trivial errors in the entire book while missing or misrepresenting the important points and large ideas and issues. The claim that the author calls "for bigger government with fewer controls" is patently false. The call is for better government that is more responsible to "we the people" and for a reduction in the onerous taxpayer burdens that come with usurious "debt-based money" created by private banks at exponentially compounding rates of interest.

T. Anderson adds, "How we can trust politicians with our money system any more than we can the bankers is not clear to me;...". But if he read the book, it SHOULD be clear. Government is at least theoretically responsible to the electorate, while "de-regulated" private bankers are responsible to no one, and have spent centuries proving it to us. However, they ARE responsible for our current terrible financial predicament.

The "banking syndicate" has wrested control of our government from us, (the people) thoroughly corrupted it, and then points the finger of blame at it for being corrupt and irresponsible. It's true, as Ms. Brown's excellent book points out. No one could make this up! While T. Anderson claims that conclusions in the book are "based on half-truths and shallow analysis", it is his arguments that are so based, and not the author's. While it is clear that wider education and discussion of these massive problems is needed, a prerequisite is clear thinking and terminology, cutting through the double-talk. "Web of Debt" does that masterfully.

Just buy it! Or buy several and give them to those you love. This book has the power to change the world for the better.
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on January 7, 2009
To correct all the errors in this book, you'd almost need another book.

People who never deduced fractional reserve lending or the fiat interest paradox are often blown away by learning about this scam, and tend to give anything that reveals it high marks, but other works do this with greater clarity and more thorough scholarship.

It is cool that the Wizard of Oz was a money allegory, but the constant references to Oz grow strained, and consume probably 5 - 10% of the book before all is said and done.

Couple examples of the errors:

There is a difference between a gold exchange standard and a gold standard, but this distinction is not made. The gold exchange standard which Brown repeatedly refers to as a gold standard did not fail because nations "ran out of gold" (as she claims in some form at least a dozen times), it failed because nations comitted fraud by printing more "gold backed" paper notes than they had gold reserves. That doesn't mean the gold standard is perfect or the ultimate solution, but how can one take an author who misses such a basic point seriously?

Brown deplores the fact that a gold standard causes gold to flee a nation that is importing more than it exports. That is what it is supposed to do! In such a system, nations that produce little but consume much go broke, as any individual should and would. The solution is to import less or export more, and correct the imbalance, but this elementary solution is not even mentioned.

The old "there isn't enough gold and silver" myth is repeated. An ounce of gold can be worth a car or can of coke, and society will prosper either way, as long as the free market is allowed to set the price. The problem arises when the monetary unit is rapidly inflated, and this is difficult to do with gold (or any commodity) because it must be dug out of the earth (or produced with real labor). Brown considers this the chief failure of gold, but it is its chief virtue.

When a government raises ALL revenue by printing money, that is not "no taxes," as she states numerous times. It is government funded via the inflation tax. A government with "no" tax revenue either does not exist or is borrowing continually and won't exist long. While some money printing can be absorbed in an economy that isn't redlined, Brown consistently and naively overestimates the capacity of the economy to absorb newly printed money without causing price increases. You fund a government as large as ours almost entirely from creating new money, there will be price increases. It is either extremely stupid or extremely dishonest to pretend otherwise. Yes, Pennsylvania in the 1700s funded government totally from this method, but they didn't have Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, an Empire, etc.

Brown's ultimate solution is gobley-gook socialism. A bungling, corrupt government should be trusted with full money printing powers, allowed to control banking, mortgages, scientific R&D, give universal sustinence wages, etc., and then all will be better and prosperity will of course ensue. This view is pitifully naive. The history of money teaches one bedrock lesson: the power to print it out of thin air will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS be abused. The solution is not to take the power from corrupt bankers and give it to equally corrupt politicians who will simply engage in the same abuses, but to abolish the fraud completely by abolishing the power completely. It is mind blowing that Brown identifies the fraud, identifies the corruption in government and banking, charts they way bankers and politicians collude to shaft the people, and then advocates turning the inflation power over to the politicians she just identified as being as corrupt as bankers.

Somewhere in all the OZ metaphors and newspaper clippings she includes, a tenth grade understanding of the origin of money is neglected, or perhaps lost. People accept money in the first place because it has intrinsic value as a commodity, and is a commodity. Real commodities can't be created out of thin air the way paper or "computer" money is. Commodities require real labor to produce. When working stiffs are forced to accept money which can be produced without real work, they get shafted when it is produced and spent by those who do no work and produce no real commodities. Politicians fall in this category, yet Brown suggests giving them a blank check that the money creation power represents.

Brown believes government can be trusted to use this power benevolently, but this belies a fundamental miscalculation about human nature. Leaders with the integrity of Franklin are the exception, not the rule. She believes that eliminating bond printing by the Fed, and allowing government to print money would eliminate a huge wealth transferral to the rich. It couldn't be that corrupt politicians in bed with bankers would just print five times as much money to make up for the lost bonds and interest payments, and then give this money to the elite for endless boondoggles. . .

The same quotes are used repeatedly, and the same points repeated. . .repeatedly. It was tiresome, especially since the errors were so eggregious.

Some sections are well written, useful, and balanced, but the most fundamental conclusions were erroneous, and fanciful. Just abolish the income tax. Love to, but ask anyone who's spent five minutes in DC how politically difficult that would be. Brown naively endorses a socialist government that provides housing, sets wages, targets full employment, gives food--all funded by endless money creation that will produce no inflation. Puh-lease.

Government is the problem, not the solution. The answer is not more government. What about those who actually want to take responsibility for their own lives? What about a limited government that just gets out of people's way and let's them be free, merely preventing crime and enforcing contracts? Maybe a tax levied in ways besides money printing is better, so I always know how much is taken, rather than wondering how many trillions of dollars the government printed out of thin air this year? The inflation tax is the most insidious form of taxation there is, and it should be abolished completely. Brown's solution is no solution at all because it misses this glaring point.
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on October 21, 2008
Her basic point, that the current economic and financial system is unstable, and headed into an immediate and immense crisis, is very well-founded. Her suggestion that some kind of "Greenback"-style fiat currency would be far preferable also seems very plausible. The book is written in a very accessible positive style, in the same kind of can-do tone of a popular self-help book.

However, Hodgson Brown's grasp of history and economics is a bit shaky. Various minor historical howlers (William and Mary coming to English throne when "Duke of York" dies, etc.) make me a bit leery of accepting statements she makes when she is talking about areas on which I am less knowledgeable. Her understanding of economics is very vague and hazy: at points where I didn't already know what she was trying to explain, such as with the medieval tally system, she was very hard to follow. I suspect that someone with only a little economics background would not gain much real understanding from this. I hate to criticise a 450-page book for excessive brevity, but she does skim over many topics that really need to be handled in a great more depth.

The economic theory she is propounding is similar to that more rigorously put forward by Michael Rowbotham, that fractional reserve banking involves banks creating money out of nothing, and that the money returns to banks as profit. It suffers of course from the same potential defects, for example, that inflation and default could potentially eat away all those profits.

Her book is far stronger when it leaves general theory and history, and gets on to the intricate details of the current crisis. The financial system is currently breaking down, with vast sums of essentially worthless money being pumped into the financial markets to desperately try to keep the major financial institutions afloat. It seems clear that this is a game that can't last much longer. She has plenty of well-informed insights in this area, at least as far as I've been able to check them.

Despite her occasional reliance on characters like LaRouche, she writes very readably with great enthusiasm, and covers a vast amount of ground, and brings up some fascinating topics. By all means read it, because it will give you ideas, and introduce you to new facts and theories, whoever you are. I'd suggest however, checking what she says to ensure you get a more informed view of each particular area she covers.
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on October 20, 2007
very pointed and clearly written. an "illuminating" discourse on financial wickedness. a must read!

one caution though when reading this book. there is so much reality in it that you may at first want to deny that it's non-fiction. i think it was the prophet Jeremiah who spoke about how desperately wicked the human heart can be. here you can find out for yourself.
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on September 14, 2008
I've been interested in the general topic of this book--our flawed and corrupt money creation/banking system and the albatross on the back of our society it represents--for a while now. Until reading this book, educating myself mostly involved absorbing the doom and gloom reality of the situation.

The best part about this book, as one reviewer already mentioned, is not Ms. Brown's immaculate analysis and presentation of the profound absurdity and utterly unnecessary folly of our current predicament. It's her optimistic proposal of an excellent, rational solution to monetary reform that could ultimately get us as close as possible to a utopian society, and in any case represents the system our founding fathers truly had in mind.

This book was the lynchpin for me that completely laid bare and clarified my thoughts about our f*cked up money system as it exists today and the fundamental, structural flaw(s) it inflicts on an otherwise prosperous and benign world, and the miserable consequences of its continued existence--then shows us the way out.

This book will undoubtedly provide every rational, thinking person with a brand new window through which to view the world. Understanding our dysfunctional and corrupt monetary system and how it shapes our society connected the dots for me in a way nothing else has and created an amazingly clear "big picture" that fundamentally changed my perception of just about everything. It also made most left vs. right/liberal vs. conservative political issues and arguments irrelevant since it pretty much overarches and transcends them.

I wholeheartedly agree with the majority of the reviewers here that it's one of, if not THE most important book you'll probably ever read. Get it any way you can and feed your head. Then spread the word to anyone else who will listen. It doesn't matter whether Amazon has it in stock since you can do like I did and buy the eBook version directly from the author's website: Given the timeliness of the material and the fact that the author does an excellent job of updating/revising the text and website to reflect the current financial meltdown as it's presently unfolding, that's probably the best method of purchase anyway.

If you agree with the author's general diagnosis and especially her proposed solutions, and believe like I do that she is correct in her assertation that a financial meltdown such as the one we are currently witnessing is the best chance to implement changes, then NOW is the time to act. First step: educate yourself....
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on August 26, 2007
For the serious student of economic history and theory, "Web of Debt" explains that a better system is available, has worked here, is working elsewhere now and could be working again to our universal betterment.

For the layperson who ordinarily disdains other than personal economics, "Web of Debt" is an entertaining, interesting and informative read with surprising facts and history leading the reader to ways we might all be better off than under the prevailing situation. Beautifully researched, explained and credited.

Don Bruce, Professor Emeritus
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on September 5, 2007
The lyrics from the Tina Turner song 'The Best' come to mind. The author is an attorney. If she pled her plaintiff's case in court for an alternate money system as presented in this book, and you were on the jury, decide which way you would vote. Her client is the debt oppressed people of society, and also most governments around the world. The defendant is the privately owned central banks of the world. Read it, and cast your vote.
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