The History of Money

The History of Money

Paperback

By (author) Jack Weatherford

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  • Publisher: Crown Publications
  • Format: Paperback | 303 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 201mm x 18mm | 272g
  • Publication date: 1 May 1998
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0609801724
  • ISBN 13: 9780609801727
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 142,549

Product description

Of all the changes that are rocking the world and promising to leave it a far less recognizable place, perhaps none is more fundamental than the revolutionary transformation of the meaning and use of money. As Jack Weatherford makes clear, we are already seeing the beginning of the third revolution of money. The first began with the invention of coins in Lydia nearly three thousand years ago and resulted in the original system of open and free markets. The second revolution occurred during the Italian Renaissance and eventually created the system of national banks and the paper money used for daily commerce. Now, on the cusp of the twenty-first century, we are undergoing another era in monetary history - that of electronic, or virtual, money. The new money will be responsible for radical changes in the international political economy and the organization of commercial enterprises. Weatherford weaves global stories and histories to give a comprehensive, engaging look at the history of the world in terms of our dealings with money and barter, wealth and power. From the markets of Timbuktu to the New York Stock Exchange, from the tribal man's hut to the modern corporate boardroom, The History of Money explores how money and the myriad forms of exchange have affected humanity. All aspects of our lives - economic, political, and personal - are influenced by money. And while we have progressed into an extremely sophisticated international exchange, some basic facts have remained the same: We still exchange money for services and goods; debt is not a new concept; and money does, indeed, make the world go round.

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Editorial reviews

An engagingly digressive audit of the mediums of exchange humankind has used and abused down through the years, from anthropologist Weatherford (Savages and Civilization, 1994, etc.). Drawing on a wealth of sources, the author divides the history of money into three distinct stages. The first dates back nearly three millennia to the creation of coins in ancient Lydia (modern Turkey), whose best-known ruler, Croesus, has become a byword for affluence. The monetary market system spawned by the invention of coins, which eliminated the need to weigh gold for every transaction, eventually spread around the world, in the process destroying great empires and fostering development of a democratic and prosperous ancient Greek civilization. The Renaissance proved another turning point, bringing with it banks, paper money, and allied innovations that put paid to feudalism, opened the way for industrial capitalism, and financed the art and scholarship of the era. On the eve of the 21st century, according to Weatherford, the Global Village is about to enter an era of electronic money, which promises to produce socioeconomic, political, and cultural changes every bit as convulsive as those that racked earlier epochs. Which is not to say that the author deals in either doom or gloom. He simply offers a guided tour of the past and provides plausible scenarios for the future. Weatherford also studs his accessible text with scholarly delights that afford welcome respites from straightforward accounts of ATMs, currency speculation, the gold standard, hyperinflation, near money (food stamps, for example), and rates of exchange. Cases in point range from an appreciation of Edward Bellamy's prediction of credit cards in his utopian novel Looking Backward (1888) through a discussion of the ways in which L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) made an allegorical case for bimetallism. An entertaining, on-the-money introduction to precisely what makes the world go 'round. (Kirkus Reviews)