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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, Solid write up of the 1929 crash
This is a surprisingly good reference on the 1929 crash. The book is very readable considering the subject matter. For me the run up to the crash got a bit too much detail whereas the details of aftermath and solutions got less attention than I would have liked. He also focuses on trivia about suicide rates which is quite entertaining but doesn't seem to the point...
Published on 10 Dec. 2008 by A. I. Mackenzie

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A dry and rather narrowly focused account
The Great Crash 1929 is considered by many to the classic account of the 1929 stock market crash that sent the US and much of the world into deep economic depression. Written by JK Galbraith, one of the leading economic historians of the twentieth century, it is a surprisingly thin volume, split into ten chapters. Galbraith's analysis very much focuses on the stock...
Published on 25 Nov. 2012 by Rob Kitchin


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, Solid write up of the 1929 crash, 10 Dec. 2008
By 
A. I. Mackenzie "alimack" (Glasgow, Scotland.) - See all my reviews
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This is a surprisingly good reference on the 1929 crash. The book is very readable considering the subject matter. For me the run up to the crash got a bit too much detail whereas the details of aftermath and solutions got less attention than I would have liked. He also focuses on trivia about suicide rates which is quite entertaining but doesn't seem to the point (which for me is to understand and avoid these kind of wild crashes).

We seem to have duplicated the conditions of this crash almost exactly in 2008 and indulged in the same property and derivative based speculation. It's also interesting that JK Galbraith goes against current (neo-liberal) orthodoxy e.g. the rich having too much money is destabilising rather than it being a benefit as 'trickle down' theory suggests.

So a good solid history, perhaps a little light on solutions. But, by ignoring history we seem to have repeated it.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book and highly recommended to anyone with any interest whatsoever in economics or the dark days of 1929., 4 Jan. 2007
By 
Philip Mayo - See all my reviews
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One of the most surprising and delightful things that I found about the book, particularly in view of the potentially heavy subject matter, was how wonderfully readable Professor Galbraith is. There are not that many world renowned experts in any field who can write as well as they can understand their subject. It's a bit like finding that a world class footballer can also play first violin. This book reads like the work of a top drawer professional writer who has immersed him/herself in the subject for a period and, with ongoing expert guidance and hands-on editing, has brought the subject home in fine style. It reads to me a bit like Tom Wolfe (of the Right Stuff etc), wonderfully literate, sardonic prose. It really is quite unexpected. Marvellous. You will have more than one chuckle out loud which may raise one of the live-in's eyebrows. Chuckling at economics now? Hmmm.

Anyway, the stock market fell, measured by the Times Industrial Average, from 542 down to 224, from October through Nov 1929, and then more gradually to only 58, basically a tenth of its peak 1929 value, by July 1932. Drastic times indeed. This residual value that the market held, 58, in 1932, was roughly the same amount by which the market fell, in only one day, 28/10/1929, Black Thursday. The Professor's contention seems to be that the Depression and the Crash, while not totally unrelated, were less connected than popular opinion held then, or holds now. The contention is that prior to the crash, that the economy was not fundamentally sound. Although there were no glaring warning signs in the economic indicators reported in the first half of 1929, there were some red lights flickering. The Professor goes on to detail and explain those. Of course I am still no expert on what happened in 1929 and why. But due to this book I have a better idea. And it has encouraged me to read more about it. Which I intend to do shortly. And further works by the extremely readable Professor Galbraith will most certainly be on my list.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Actually Happened in 1929?, 5 July 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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Having recently lived through the crash of the dot-com stocks, I thought it was a particularly appropriate moment to reread John Kenneth Galbraith's famous history of the stock market crash of 1929 in the United States. Professor Galbraith's final words prove to be prophetic as he suggests that as soon as the lessons of 1929 are forgotten, the speculative excesses that led to that debacle will recur. I am sure that when the dot-bomb experience is forgotten, it will be repeated with some new class of speculation in some future generation.
With the recent experience of seeing a market mania, I came away more impressed with this book than before. Professor Galbraith does a fine job of capturing the psychology that builds into and sustains a mania. He also writes like a novelist rather than like an economist. That talent makes the message easy to grasp and appreciate.
I was also impressed by how our popular perceptions of 1929 are so often wrong. For example, most people believe that many "broken" speculators committed suicide. Although some did, there was no significant rise in the suicide rate compared to a general trend in that direction.
Economists often like to fault the Federal Reserve for the crash. That blame seems somewhat misplaced when you learn that there was very little government debt that the Fed could repurchase to create liquidity. Had the Fed acted differently, the crash might have come a little sooner and not been quite so severe . . . but the fundamentals would probably not have changed too much.
Another misperception is that everyone was speculating. By even the most generous measures, the speculators probably never numbered over a million people.
Although this is a history, Professor Galbraith takes on the economic question of how the crash contributed to the Depression. Although we know very little about the economic details of 1929, I was impressed by the point about how much consumer spending was concentrated in the wealthiest people. As they lost vast sums, both spending for consumer goods and savings for capital were decimated. With the broader income distribution of today, such a cataclysm would not be so harmful (as we saw in the aftermath of the dot-com crash).
There is an excellent parallel discussion of the land boom in Florida earlier in the 1920's that is very rewarding. I was intrigued by the ways that ever increasing ways of extending leverage were created so that both bubbles could climb higher. In Florida, people didn't actually buy the land. They bought options to buy the land, and traded those. In the stock market, holding companies sold stock and then floated new holding companies. These were capitalized with common stock, preferred and debt so that all of the appreciation would accrue to the common holders. Naturally, the opposite occurred on the way down. Many stocks fell by over 99 percent, as a result.
Everyone who is tempted to buy any item primarily because it is thought to represent an opportunity for a quick buck should read this book.
Look for true value in all that you do!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars probably not one for the airports with a title like that, 7 Jun. 2009
By 
tallmanbaby (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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I bought this book alongside Depression Economics by Paul Krugman, and rather left it to one side. I've only just got round to reading it, and I have been very pleasantly surprised. Knowing that it was a classic text on the subject, I rather expected it to be dry and worthy. It is completely the opposite. After the first few pages, it quickly picks up pace and is an absolute page turner. There are not many books that I find I cannot put down, but this was one of them. I won't pretend to understand everything, and there are many out of date references that go over my head, but the big message is loud and clear. Largely based on newspaper reports, often tracing the story over individual days, people thought they could not lose, and borrowed money to invest. Confidence slipped, and then crashed catastrophically.

It is easy now to imagine you would be immune to such folly, but by the end I could easily envisage myself getting caught up in the mood of the time.

On the minus side, the quality of the printing is poor, with smudgy text. This is not an economics text book, you might learn about the psychology of the time, and think about the economics, but it does not provide glib answers. However, the mark of a good book, it leaves you wanting to know more.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will they never learn?, 27 Oct. 2008
What strikes anyone who reads this after the events of the past three months is just how similar the events are which JKG chronicled and which we are seeing happen now. The creation of wealth with no basis in reality, the delusion of millions that somehow things could only go on getting better, even the reassurances of the pundits as things unravelled faster and faster (stocks were overvalued, a healthy shake out, imminent restoration of the situation, unlying stocks are sound, very soon the markets will receive organised support and so on). Yes the situation is very different but human nature and refusal to accept reality don't change. Recommended for anyone who relishes watching the rich and powerful step firmly on a banana skin.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Actually Happened in 1929?, 10 April 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Great Crash (Paperback)
Having recently lived through the crash of the dot-com stocks, I thought it was a particularly appropriate moment to reread John Kenneth Galbraith's famous history of the stock market crash of 1929 in the United States. Professor Galbraith's final words prove to be prophetic as he suggests that as soon as the lessons of 1929 are forgotten, the speculative excesses that led to that debacle will recur. I am sure that when the dot-bomb experience is forgotten, it will be repeated with some new class of speculation in some future generation.
With the recent experience of seeing a market mania, I came away more impressed with this book than before. Professor Galbraith does a fine job of capturing the psychology that builds into and sustains a mania. He also writes like a novelist rather than like an economist. That talent makes the message easy to grasp and appreciate.
I was also impressed by how our popular perceptions of 1929 are so often wrong. For example, most people believe that many "broken" speculators committed suicide. Although some did, there was no significant rise in the suicide rate compared to a general trend in that direction.
Economists often like to fault the Federal Reserve for the crash. That blame seems somewhat misplaced when you learn that there was very little government debt that the Fed could repurchase to create liquidity. Had the Fed acted differently, the crash might have come a little sooner and not been quite so severe . . . but the fundamentals would probably not have changed too much.
Another misperception is that everyone was speculating. By even the most generous measures, the speculators probably never numbered over a million people.
Although this is a history, Professor Galbraith takes on the economic question of how the crash contributed to the Depression. Although we know very little about the economic details of 1929, I was impressed by the point about how much consumer spending was concentrated in the wealthiest people. As they lost vast sums, both spending for consumer goods and savings for capital were decimated. With the broader income distribution of today, such a cataclysm would not be so harmful (as we saw in the aftermath of the dot-com crash).
There is an excellent parallel discussion of the land boom in Florida earlier in the 1920's that is very rewarding. I was intrigued by the ways that ever increasing ways of extending leverage were created so that both bubbles could climb higher. In Florida, people didn't actually buy the land. They bought options to buy the land, and traded those. In the stock market, holding companies sold stock and then floated new holding companies. These were capitalized with common stock, preferred and debt so that all of the appreciation would accrue to the common holders. Naturally, the opposite occurred on the way down. Many stocks fell by over 99 percent, as a result.
Everyone who is tempted to buy any item primarily because it is thought to represent an opportunity for a quick buck should read this book.
Look for true value in all that you do!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read for any investor, 21 Feb. 2001
By A Customer
following the "sudden vanishing" of approximately USD 5 trillion dollars of market capitalization in the NASDAQ since march 2001, this book comes as a somewhat "refreshing" read - especially considering that it was published back in 1954! i have never been one to put too much weight on comments such as "history always repeats itself", but this book was rather scary in that it could have easily been written in 2001. for those of you have been following the "irrationally exhuberant" technology equity markets of the last 3 years, this book shows that the will to participate in "easy money opportunities" lives in all of us.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History doesn't repeat itself, but it rimes. - Mark Twain, 1 July 2009
By 
Mr. M. Jung (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Very familiar with the crash of 2008, this book is somewhat THE play book for the past events (Greenspan put, Housing bubble, SEC, the domino effect, malinvestment, etc.) which led us into the abyss of the first Global Recession. Despite that this book covers the happenings before and slightly after the stockmarket crash of 1929, it perfectly describes lively and vividly the patterns my generation has witnessed (banking, finance, government, businesses, consumption, etc). As Mark Twain once wrote; ''History doesn't repeat itself, but it rimes'.

Inaction was advocated pre-1929 and pre-2008 even though it meant deep trouble in the future. Historians told us (and tell us) what the years after the crash looked like (for the USA and others). Thus governments and international agencies (IMF, Worldbank, central banks) TODAY step in big time to prevent the same from happening again. But with even more unsound economic fundamentals TODAY than they were back than, we all don't know what the future holds. But one thing I know - it rimes with the Great Depression of the thirties.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, 24 July 2009
By 
M. Sear (Milton Keynes UK) - See all my reviews
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Not that easy to read and a little bit hard in some areas (not a novel shall we say). BUT very relevant for 2009. Read it and be astonished at just how little we have learned (or perhaps how much we have forgotten).

I will not be surprised if this book isn't a "Nostradamus" for events that will happen in 2010 onwards.

It all sounds so very familiar. We have been here before people - read this book and you will see why and how.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AAA ambition, arrogance and avarice - a world gone bad, 22 Feb. 2009
By 
Uncle Pete (Limburg, Netherlands) - See all my reviews
If proof is required "that the only lesson of history, is that we don't learn the lessons of history" then this book assuredly provides that proof. Written half a century ago, about events, which were already thirty years in the past. Galbraith's writing provides an easy to read insight in the causes, the characters, and the calamities of the great crash. What is described has so much in common with today's "credit crisis", that it is hard to understand how those in academia and those in control of the financial system (surely they must have had some knowledge of the history of their subject) could not have foreseen and forestalled the events that are now unfolding around the world today. This book should be compulsory reading for all those working in the financial system, be they engaged in trade, supervision, or policymaking.
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The Great Crash 1929
The Great Crash 1929 by John Kenneth Galbraith (Paperback - 29 Oct. 2009)
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