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Tower of Basel [Paperback]

Adam LeBor
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
RRP: 11.99
Price: 10.60 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

12 Jun 2014
Tower of Basel is the first investigative history of the world's most secretive global financial institution. Based on extensive archival research in Switzerland, Britain, and the United States, and in-depth interviews with key decision-makers--including Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve; Sir Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England; and former senior Bank for International Settlements managers and officials--Tower of Basel tells the inside story of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS): the central bankers' own bank. Created by the governors of the Bank of England and the Reichsbank in 1930, and protected by an international treaty, the BIS and its assets are legally beyond the reach of any government or jurisdiction. The bank is untouchable. Swiss authorities have no jurisdiction over the bank or its premises. The BIS has just 140 customers but made tax-free profits of $1.17 billion in 2011--2012. Since its creation, the bank has been at the heart of global events but has often gone unnoticed. Under Thomas McKittrick, the bank's American president from 1940--1946, the BIS was open for business throughout the Second World War. The BIS accepted looted Nazi gold, conducted foreign exchange deals for the Reichsbank, and was used by both the Allies and the Axis powers as a secret contact point to keep the channels of international finance open. After 1945 the BIS--still behind the scenes--for decades provided the necessary technical and administrative support for the trans-European currency project, from the first attempts to harmonize exchange rates in the late 1940s to the launch of the Euro in 2002. It now stands at the center of efforts to build a new global financial and regulatory architecture, once again proving that it has the power to shape the financial rules of our world. Yet despite its pivotal role in the financial and political history of the last century and during the economic current crisis, the BIS has remained largely unknown--until now.

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Tower of Basel + Lords of Finance: 1929, The Great Depression, and the Bankers who Broke the World
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Product details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Trade Paper Edition edition (12 Jun 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610393813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610393812
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"[Lebor] does a creditable job in this well-researched account." -- New York Times Book Review "It's a story of financial intrigue, secrets and lies, rumor and truth. LeBor, a business journalist (he's also the author of several thrillers), knows how to make a true story about finance as thrilling as any spy novel. A highly entertaining and informative book about the most powerful bank you've probably never heard of." -- Booklist "Lebor exposes the wheeling, dealing, and often nefarious activities of global investment bankers...Lively... The historical and contemporary power of the secretive BIS will surprise and alarm readers." -- Publishers Weekly "An absorbing and thorough examination of one of the world's most important yet opaque institutions." -- Reuters "Adam LeBor has written an absolutely fascinating history of the BIS, perhaps the most enigmatic financial institution in the world. The story he unveils of the many skeletons in its closet and its astounding ability to remake itself periodically only add to its mystique." -- Liaquat Ahamed, author of Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World Edward Lucas, author of Deception: The Untold Story of East-West Espionage Today"Tower of Basel is essential reading. Meticulously researched and fluently written, it reveals a slice of the modern world's untold history--a gripping tale of covert networks, secret deals and unaccountable, powerful individuals whose decisions shape our lives." Liaquat Ahamed, author of Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World"Adam LeBor has written an absolutely fascinating history of the BIS, perhaps the most enigmatic financial institution in the world. The story he unveils of the many skeletons in its closet and its astounding ability to remake itself periodically only add to its mystique." Harold James, professor of history and international affairs, Princeton University, and author of Making the European Monetary Union "Compelling reading--a masterly depiction of the role of the BIS in the Nazi period and Second World War." Booklist "It's a story of financial intrigue, secrets and lies, rumor and truth. LeBor, a business journalist (he's also the author of several thrillers), knows how to make a true story about finance as thrilling as any spy novel. A highly entertaining and informative book about the most powerful bank you've probably never heard of." Reuters Breaking Views "An absorbing and thorough examination of one of the world's most important yet opaque institutions"

About the Author

Adam LeBor is an author, journalist, and literary critic based in Budapest. He writes for The Economist, The Times (London), Monocle, and numerous other publications, and also reviews books for the New York Times. He has been a foreign correspondent since 1991, covering the collapse of communism and the Yugoslav wars, and has worked in more than thirty countries. He is the author of seven critically acclaimed nonfiction books, including the ground-breaking Hitler's Secret Bankers, and two novels. His books have been published in twelve languages.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading to understand the euro crisis 2 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This in-depth study, based on extensive archival documentation, surveys the history of the BIS, which until recently only a few financial experts had heard about. This institution, protected by extraterritorial privileges, can be seen as a forerunner of the European Central Bank, in that both are transnational banks free from "political interference" by the nations, which is Orwellian doublespeak meaning that they are private organisations operating outside of any democratic control or even accounting scrutiny by third parties, with an agenda of monetary manipulation (referred to in doublespeak as "stability") of national and international policies.
Historically, the BIS had strong links with both the US and National Socialist Germany and the latter's ideological and financial heirs in post-war Europe.
One critique that could be made is that the author could have cited more sources in languages other than English.
Early BIS documents reflect the longstanding paternalistic attitude of the banking elite, its dislike of disclosure and transparency, and its unwillingness to admit making mistakes even when these become self-evident.
Anyone who considers these conclusions to be somehow exaggerated should read the book for themselves.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I used to cover the Bank for International Settlements as a financial journalist in the 1980s, so knew a fair amount of this story. But the immense details Adam LeBor brings shows how deeply involved the BIS was during WWII and immediately afterwards in protecting Nazi interests.

What surprises me is to realise how much American financiers were implicated, both at the head of the BIS and in U.S. companies, banks and legal firms working to keep links with Nazi Germany going while American soldiers were making massive sacrifices on the battlefields against Germany.

Besides concerning the BIS, this book is a fierce indictment of the conduct of American financial interests overall.

The BIS is undemocratic, as LeBor points out, but it is so useful to behind-the-scenes international monetary cooperation, that it is likely to keep on going indefinitely. Some of the quiet measures taken by the BIS to help one crisis or another did impress me, I must admit. But at what moral cost?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WILL IT EVER GET OVER IT'S IGNOBLE START? 10 April 2014
By DOPPLEGANGER TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The author Adam Lebor's account of the establishment in 1930 of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) exposes it's shocking and unforgivable willingness to become Adolph Hitler's financial conduit and facilitator, enabling the pillaging of invaded states Gold and Currency Reserves.

As thoroughly researched that the book so well demonstrates with the detailed history of BIS, no real clue is given as to the reason why the then Governor of the Bank of England, Montagu Norman should form such a dubious alliance and deep friendship with Hjalmar Schacht, a fanatical supporter of Hitler and the Nazi Party who served Hitler as President of the central state bank Reichsbank, and as Minister of Economics. It was this 'alliance' that was instrumental in BIS's formation and because of the unaccountable way it had been set up, it allowed the BIS to plunge into the murky world of giving assistance to a state that carried out such illegal, and barbarous acts against great swathes of humanity. It was unforgivable.

After the war, and with widespread alarm at the role played by BIS as an adjunct to the Nazi Party, the Breton Woods Conference in 1944 decided that the BIS should be done away with, and yet somehow with much behind the scenes manoeuvring surprisingly involving John Maynard Keynes, the BIS was allowed to carry on.

Since when, in order to obfuscate the past and to buff up it's image, BIS has 'morphed' into a hybrid mutation as the banker to Central Banks around the world, a self-acclaimed expert in the capital and liquidity ratios held by the commercial banking industry, and some fee earning financial regulatory and monitoring services.
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Format:Hardcover
An incredible book that fills in the void left by other researchers. The author spares no punches and offers a very damning critique of the international central bank brotherhood. Meticulously going through the crisis of identity, subsequent remodeling of the bank and its purpose. He offers information the omission of which in other books such as "The Lords of Finance" is near criminal. LeBor offers a very disturbing portrait of some of the 20th century most powerful financial wizards including Schacht who is described as a benevolent banker by Liaquat Ahamed but in truth had much to do with the rise of the Nationalist Socialist Party in Germany. He offers the missing piece that many of us have been searching for, a close look at a place where central bankers meet (and have met) outside the view of prying eyes to decide upon issues which are deemed too important to be left for populist opinion to decide upon. LeBor builds on previously established notions and sheds light on the roots of the so called 'technocratic elites' of the European Union who have done so much to circumvent the democratic process and erode the sovereignty of European sovereign states. Overall a very, very grim historical work that makes present day events come more clearly into focus for any astute student of financial and European History. While others simply list facts and make nothing of them LeBor astudly draws conclusions and links consequent events together to present a highly compelling account of the roots of the European Project but also, more importantly, the financial system at large.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The secret bank that runs the world
The Tower of Basle is the book we have all waited for to reveal
the secrets behind who creates money - but above all who creates
the huge debt that never gets cancelled.
Published 6 months ago by Michael Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars BIS.org, evefr and forever
As an investment "professional" I could not believe how much I have learned from @adamlebor: very dark corners of international payment and monetary system plumbing that... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Drago Indjic
4.0 out of 5 stars Reads like fiction.
I bought this because my work lets me know of the role that the BIS plays in modern financial policy making but I knew little of the institute itself. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Oldsmoker
5.0 out of 5 stars is it true
AS far as I have read, the book explains a lot of what goes on in the world and why we have the problems that we do. Read more
Published 7 months ago by billy megger
2.0 out of 5 stars A waste of research
I started reading this because I wanted to understand the history and functions of the BIS. I'm sure a detailed and very interesting story about this is contained within the book,... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Nostromo
1.0 out of 5 stars StoryTime
This is great fiction novel for those interested in the banking world. Written by yet another conspiracy theorist with little or no backed up facts and armchair research. Read more
Published 10 months ago by cormaquinho
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opener...must read it!
This books is very accessible and provides a context into the 'one' banker world. Some of the insight is worryingly disturbing.It gives a historic insight into future decisions. Read more
Published 11 months ago by A. Hussain
3.0 out of 5 stars hard reading
I thought that this book was very hard work and I still have not finished the book but will try it later.
Published 11 months ago by barbara heggie
5.0 out of 5 stars good read for me
only had a quick read through, but it is the type of book that holds my attention - factual and provides historical context that I was only partly aware of. Read more
Published 12 months ago by michael hadfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Highly informative. Easy reading - not at all heavy going. Vital reading for anyone researching the transnational banking cartels and their political links.
Published 13 months ago by Lou
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