The Back of the Book: Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot. Call it what you like, it matters now more than ever. In The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson shows that financial history is the back-story to all history.
From the banking dynasty who funded the Italian Renaissance to the stock market bubble that caused the French Revolution, this is the story of booms and busts as it’s never been told before.
With the world in the grip of the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, there’s never been a better time to understand the ascent – and descent – of money.
NotJustLaura’s Review: Before I can review this book, I have to make a confession. I am numerically challenged. I got my school certificates for mathematics and arithmetic on a wing and a prayer and then happily trotted off the English Department of Dundee University thinking I’d left numbers behind forever. I suppose that makes reading this book something of an achievement because it’s financial history with a hefty dose of economics. And it contains lots of numbers, most of which I did not attempt to understand. Actually, I didn’t understand quite a lot of it but that’s absolutely no reflection on Mr Ferguson’s talents. I didn’t read the book to understand everything in it but to have a broad understanding of society’s current financial situation and Mr Ferguson provided that beautifully.
In The Ascent of Money, he looks at the development of finance from a simple exchange of goods to the gold standard and beyond. He looks at the financial markets and explains just what is meant by the sub-prime market. He looks at how we got from there to here. Some of this went right over my head. But that’s OK – I read this book as one would a novel, without stopping to go over the bits I didn’t really understand. Mr Ferguson’s writing is clear and succinct and I’m quite sure a reader who is better with numbers or willing to expend more brain-power would find all the bits I didn’t understand quite beautifully explained. This is a very readable account of the history of finance and I would encourage anyone scratching their head at our current economic status to give it a try – even just to get an overview.