This book is subtitled A Financial History of the World and tells the story of finance from Mesopotamian days to the 2007 credit crunch. It accompanies a Channel Four TV series, traces of which can be seen in the prose (there are frequent references to places which are clearly camera shots: the East End of Glasgow, Memphis, and Stowe House for example).
It is not organised as history but in themes (presumably the programmes). Thus: one chapter considers government bonds, one traces the history of shares, one considers insurance and one property. There is a considerable emphasis on the recent turmoil on the financial markets; as a history it has a definite bias to the more recent. There are many interesting moments; I was, for example, charmed by the anti-capitalist antecedents of Monopoly. But there are also occasions when I wanted to know more, more, more: he mentions the Dutch Tulip bubble and the South Sea bubble both of which I know something about but I wanted more; he tantalisingly mentions (twice) the collapse of Overend Gurney but he never tells us what happened. Not only this but I was left floundering by his explanations of what a hedge fund is; and of put,call and swap options.
All in all this was an interesting book but not a fascinating one and it left me frustrated with a lot of unanswered questions.
July 2009, 362 pages
- Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57