Matthew Hart’s book is an account of the importance that humans have always given to gold and how it rose to become the world’s most precious commodity. It takes in history (including the defeat of the Aztecs and Inca by the conquistadors), economic history (including the abandonment of the gold standard), finance (including the development of the complicated derivative products that shape the current gold market and the effect that this has on price) and politics (including how the Chinese government revived its gold mine operations to improve its economy).
Given the wide scope of the book, it’s inevitable that Hart cannot go into great depth on every topic, but it is surprising how much information he is able to give and because he writes very clearly, it’s easy to follow – especially the complicated finance sections involving derivative products. For me the most interesting sections relate to the abandonment of the gold standard. I found these coherent with Hart explaining complex elements in easy to understand language and he slowly built up the implications for what happened and links it in to the world economic system, culminating in Nixon’s decision to decouple the dollar from gold in the early 1970s and the reasons for the same.
Hart is also good at showing the dangers of gold mining (both physical and environmental) and his account of visiting mines in South Africa and Mongolia are evocative and frightening – in fact, I would have been interested in knowing more about the environmental fall out and what the local people feel about it. Similarly, I also wanted to know more about the black economy in gold training and the lengths that people will go to do it – Hart does touch on this in several chapters and it’s interesting to know the impact on gold reserves and the price but it would have been good to hear from those who engage in it.
If I’ve got a criticism, then the book does jump around a lot between time periods, which at times was jarring most notably at the beginning where we jump from modern South Africa to 16th century South America. That said though, this was an absorbing and fascinating read and there’s plenty of material in the endnotes for those who want to find out more. I will be checking out Hart’s book on the diamond industry.
After listening to an abridged edition of this book on BBC radio 4:my interest was sparked. It`s a first-class overview of gold mining and the marketing of gold. I particularly enjoyed the "retold history" of mining for gold. Also, it featured interesting interviews with those in the "know".
Ch 1 features the illegal mining in South Africa.
Ch 2 Gold in relation to the Spanish conquest of the New World.
Ch 3 Gold and other precious metals in the world economy.
Ch 4 discusses Nixon's decision to decouple the dollar from gold.
The fifth chapter is an account of the Carlin Trend in Nevada and the rise of a modern mining industry.
The sixth chapter focuses on the growth of barrack gold.
The seventh chapter moves to China and tells the story both of the Linglong gold mine, and of the history of Chinese gold mining in general.
altogether, this is a good coverage of the subject for the benefit of the insider and the layman.
Gold: The Race for the World's Most Seductive Metal by Matthew Hart is an amazing book about how this precious metal have driven man to commit conquest, murder, and international mayhem. The book shows the history of Gold; from the earliest civilizations over 6,000 years ago to now with emergence of China and their bid to collect as much of this precious metal as they can.
I very much enjoyed this book and have not put it down since I got it. This book is beautifully written and weaves an incredible story of how gold has affected not only us as individuals but it has created or destroyed whole civilizations. I think you will enjoy this book as much as I did.
An interesting book that covers a broad range both the financial markets and the geographic locations, however "read" ends very abruptly with very brief reference to future undersea potential exploration or even potential "industry" views of where the future lies. The book would benefit from some simple maps to show the locations of the various mines referred to but it relies on short descriptions of the in-country travel - not really good enough. Overall informative in parts. the book has several grammatical writing errors which given the experience of the author, should have been avoided. The end of the book comes suddenly moving into 42 pages of reference notes - informative yes but maybe several of the more important ones should have been incorporated into the text at the bottom of the page they referred to, to allow the reader to break the read and look them up using a computer. but for these niggling points I would have given the book a better rating.
Somehow, for a book that details mostly the international trade in gold, and the evil twists and turns of the stock market, I was unable to put the book down. I am disappointed that the book didn't detail more about gold in general, or the history of gold. The author has a very convivial and enjoyable way of writing, which I think helped with the subject.
I'm 100% sure I didn't fully understand the ins and outs of the stock market, but at least I can say that I read about it!
The book presents a stark revelation of avarice and greed. Interestingly written. Might have been improved had more on the wider historical context been included. Nonetheless, a very good read, a story needing a wide audience.