A superb, prize-winning and intellectually rigerous study of the ascent of money. The approach is, at one and the same time, historical, literary and entertaining. One chapter covers the personal experiences of the author's grandfather (the author, John Buchan) as a result of the calamitous collapse of the City of Glasgow Bank, a watermark on the books of British financial history that remains much under-researched. This chapter is indicative of the others: fascinating original historical research is recounted in the beautiful and highly readable prose of a great novelist. As the unmistakable smell of used banknotes gives life to the bookkeeper's balance sheet, so does Buchan infuse the history of money with personality and drama. Pure joy.