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The Ascent of Money


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About the Author

Niall Ferguson is one of the world's most renowned historians. He is the author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, High Financier, Civilization, The Great Degeneration, Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, and The Square and the Tower. He is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. His many awards 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).


With global financial markets experiencing severe turbulence, Harvard historian Ferguson (The Pity of War) presents a timely history of money and finance from the advent of coins to J.P Morgan Chase's takeover of Bear Stearns earlier this year. He describes humanity's major financial innovations such as banks, bonds, joint stock companies, insurance, and property ownership as well as the pitfalls of inflation, recessions, and asset bubbles. Ferguson finishes by discussing the various iterations of globalization over the past 100 years and one of the newest and currently most notorious financial developments: hedge funds. He keeps his story interesting with humor and unexpected twists such as how a fund to provide for the widows of Scottish clergymen laid the foundations for modern insurance theory. Commenting on the safety normally ascribed to investing in property, he observes ironically that the only real security entailed is for lenders who in the event of loan defaults can seize properties. Though not comprehensive in scope, Ferguson's lighthearted but thoughtful stroll through financial history is a welcome and recommended addition for public libraries and undergraduate collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/08.]-Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ., Erie, PA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Before regulators throw block trades, bond swaps, bridge financing, butterfly spreads and Black-Scholes out with the bathwater, they should find time to read Niall Ferguson's The Ascent of Money. --The Wall Street Journal

[An] excellent, just in time guide to the history of finance and financial crisis. --The Washington Post Shrewdly anticipates many aspects of the current financial crisis, which has toppled banks, precipitated gigantic government bailouts and upended global markets. --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times Fascinating. --Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek Good old-fashioned narrative history, complete with heroes and villains, visionaries and scoundrels. --James Pressley, Bloomberg

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