The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World

From The Telegraph:

'Money is the root of most progress,' says Niall Ferguson. 'Behind each historical phenomenon there lies a financial secret.'

Ferguson As if to prove his point, in the very month that his new financial history of the world comes both to the bookshops and, as a six-part documentary, to Channel 4, concerns among American voters about money and the jobs that generate it have arguably propelled to the White House an inexperienced candidate, Barack Obama, who might very well have lost if the election had been fought, as most pundits expected it would be, on issues of national security rather than finance.

So Ferguson's analysis is timely – and all the more so because it sets out to examine the possibility that, as well as a change in the tone of global political leadership, we are witnessing a Darwinian 'great dying' in the financial world, a mass extinction of species that have proved themselves unfit to survive.

His analysis is also well up to the elegant standard we expect from this worldly Oxford-and-Harvard academic who doubles as a trenchant newspaper comment writer. It combines a remarkable sweep of historical reference, from ancient Mesopotamia and medieval Italy onwards, with a rare ability to explain the alchemies and complexities of modern finance.

But for Ferguson devotees, this book nevertheless comes as something of a surprise.

More here.