1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The author is probably more interesting than the book,
This review is from: Good Value: Reflections on Money, Morality and an Uncertain World (Hardcover)This is a rather rambling look at various aspects of trade and finance by one of Britain's top bankers (at the time anyway - see note below). We wander along from one subject to another, from Milan cathedral to Goethe's Faust to Buchenwald concentration camp, taking a little deviation into child psychology along the way, following a vaguely philosophical thread about globalization and, it seems at times, anything else the author feels like writing about.
Some of it is interesting, though occasionally it reads a bit like a school textbook, or a few paragraphs from several school textbooks - a brief history of civilization, a touch of the classics, the scriptures.
Written in a straightforward style, it's an easy enough read, with a very sound message about morals and corporate responsibility. Unfortunately the one thing that might have made this book stand out - a few revelations about life at the top of a large global bank, from this insider of the financial world - we don't get. The closest we come to anything really critical about banks and their role in the 2007/8 financial crisis (which I think is the peg for this book, though it's possible the author intended to write this anyway and the crisis came along while he was doing so) is a reminder that the sins of arrogance and greed are hard to forgive.
So in the end the most interesting thing about this book is the fact that the author, who was the chairman of HSBC bank when he wrote this in 2008/9, is also an ordained priest in the Church of England, and in 2010 became minister of state for trade and investment, joining the House of Lords as a baron.
Stephen Green is obviously not your sterotypical `fat cat' greedy banker (though I dare say he's not short of a few quid) and I found it reassuring that someone with such an ethical outlook on life was in charge of one of the world's biggest banks and is now in a senior governmental position. I'm sure both business and politics would benefit from more of his kind.
That doesn't make this a great book, however, but nor is it a bad one - it just lacks focus. The points the author makes are complelling and all decent people would agree with most of what he says, even if, like me, they don't necessarily share his religious views.