The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World Paperback – 5 Apr 2012
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The hardback publication of Niall Ferguson's book was prophetic, but this edition - topped and tailed with a passionate, closely argued call for us to educate ourselves about financial markets - could not be more timely (Tony Clements Telegraph)
Dazzling ... extraordinarily timely (Martin Vander Weyer Spectator)
A whistle-stop tour of the historical events that gave us the financial system we have today ... To Niall Ferguson's list of talents we can now add great timing (Stephanie Flanders Mail on Sunday)
Ferguson is the most brilliant British historian of his generation ... he writes with splendid panache (Times)
Ferguson's powers are on formidable display (Tristram Hunt Observer)
Wonderfully accessible ... Ferguson is spot on (Allister Heath Literary Review)
A fine history ... told with verve and insight (Daily Telegraph)
One of the world's leading historians (Hamish McRae Independent)
About the Author
Niall Ferguson is one of Britain's most renowned historians. He is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a senior fellow of the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, and a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. His books include The House of Rothschild, Empire, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, The Great Degeneration and Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist. His many prizes include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013).
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After a long introduction, he looks at the possibility of and the idealistic notion of a moneyless world. Quoting Engels and Marx, he examines historically Humankind's early years and the idealistic "communist societies ... in which goods will be freely available and free of charge" before concluding a moneyless world would be far worse than today's. This leads naturally to the rise of the banking and bond world.
He looks closely at what he sees as the unusual worlds of hedging, stock-markets, financial bubbles and so on in which, quoting Skilling, the ex-Enron chief, "all that matters is money ... You buy loyalty with money".
In chapters entitled "Safe as Houses" and "From Empire to Chimerica", he examines modern financial phenomena. At 450 pages, it is a thorough examination of our use of money and, although readers may not agree on his conclusions or some of his facts, it is an interesting, challenging re-examination of dosh, loot, lucre, the root of all evil or the secret to happiness.