The History of Money

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The best Books The History of Money the best work In his most widely appealing book yet one of today s le

The best Books The History of Money the best work In his most widely appealing book yet, one of today s leading authors of popular anthropology looks at the intriguing history and peculiar nature of money, tracing our relationship with it from the time when primitive men exchanged cowrie shells to the imminent arrival of the all purpose electronic cash card 320 pp Author tour National radio publicity 25,000 print.FromIn his most widely appealing book yet, one of today s leading authors of popular anthropology looks at the intriguing history and peculiar nature of money, tracing our relationship with it from the time when primitive men exchanged cowrie shells to the imminent arrival of the all purpose electronic cash card 320 pp Author tour National radio publicity 25,000 print.From the Hardcover edition.. Good Ebook The History of Money THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE BUT YOU CAN KEEP 'EM FOR THE BIRDS AND BEESOn the second page of the first chapter of this book about money, Jack Weatherford is talking about human sacrifice in the Aztec religion ("up the long flight of steps to the altar where the priests ripped out his heart") – later on p 64 we get a description of the Templars being burned to death in 1310 (I'll spare you a quote) – and anyone might think that our author is trying desperately to jive up his boring subject with regular bursts of ultraviolence. But the subject of money (where did it come from? What does it do? Where does it go?) is fairly wild, unlikely and in no need of gimmicks. Money itself is a gimmick. It's a trick. Cash is a metaphor! Visitors at the US Mint at the end of 14th Street, Washington DC, can buy sheets of uncut dollar bills. The tourists use it as cute wrapping paper.This book lurched from being great (explaining stuff I always wanted to know about, joining a lot of puzzling dots together) to being very aggravating (e.g. not explaining – okay, WHY did the Romans allegedly not produce anything and make such a cock-up of their economy, they had a badass empire for a long time, no, I don't get it).THAT CLINKING CLANKING SOUNDLydia was a kingdom in Greece before Greece was Greece and they invented coins. Everywhere else they had local currencies like cowrie shells or goats or bags of lettuce or human heads. All these were impractical in terms of transportation and there were cultural difficulties – you sling your bag of heads on the merchant's table in York or Marseilles and ask for three slaves, a silver bracelet and a packet of Marlboro and the merchant will likely tell you to bugger off and take your smelly bag with you. That's if you've got the heads through customs.Anyway the use of coins that had been weighed and stamped in the royal workshop made it possible for commerce to proceed much more rapidly and honestly, and it allowed people to participate even if they did not own a scale.Because gold itself was used as money before coins, but you had the hassle of weighing it and figuring out if it was good quality gold or had been cut with baking soda. So King Croesus of Lydia solved that. Well, probably it was some sharp slave kid who pointed it out, not the King. History does not record such a detail. But because of the innovation of lovely coins the focus of economic life shifted from the palace (where tributes had been paid and grants had been made) to the marketplace (where you could make a fast buck). As soon as the public marketplace became a reality, the first public brothels and the first public casinos followed very swiftly. Ha ha, I bet this does not surprise you either. WE GOT A LOT OF WHAT IT TAKES TO GET ALONG So coins were durable, were standardised, were easy to use and were revolutionary, the sparkly little things. Money made possible the organisation of society on a scale much greater and far more complex than either kinship or force could have achieved. The use of money does not require the face-to-face interaction and intense relationships of a kinship-based system. Money became the social nexus connecting humans in many more social relationships, no matter how distant or how transitory, than had previously been possible. ...Work and human labour itself bcame a commodity with a value tht could be fixed in money according to its importance, the amount of skill or strength it required, and the time it took. As money became the standard value for work, it was also becoming the standard of value for time itself.The creation of cash magically simplified complex transactions – now you could convert fines, taxes, dowries and wages into cash values. The economic energy unleashed by the invention of cash created in turn the public market which demanded in turn more skills in quickly figuring all these new transactions which meant that people now needed mathematics and to be able to think in abstractions. Cash created a brain revolution.Humans have found many ways to bring order to the phenomenological flow of existence, and money is one of the most important. Money is a strictly human invention that is itself a metaphor : it stands for something else. It allows humans to structure life in incredibly complex waysWell, the Greeks flourished, passed on the great invention to the Romans, they had a time of it too, but they finally lost the plot, and exactly why their economy unravelled is one of Mr Weatherford's several weak spots, he doesn't really explain it. He says "the Romans produced comparatively little" Reg :All right, all right, apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... WHAT have the Romans done ever for us?TIME PASSEDAfter the Romans, we get 1000 years of feudalism when "money played only the wispy shadow of the role it had held". The clinking, clanking sound was replaced by the mooing, baaing and bellowing sound. However, fortunately for everyone, horrible massive violence was just around the corner to jump-start the economy again. This was : The Crusades.As the Crusades progressed it became painfully clear that they needed better security for the flocks of tourists who were now keen to visit Jerusalem and Tyre and so forth. (In those days they were called "pilgrims"). So a special task force was established called the Knights of the Temple of Solomon – the Knights Templar, much beloved by tinfoil hatwearers the world over. They were chaste young men who were encouraged to channel their repressed sexuality into limitless violence against Moslems. They quickly got very rich because they were the Group Four and the Fedex of the Holy Land and they were allowed to keep all their Moslem spoils of war, and people back in France and Germany liked the cut of their jib and gave them donations, and some people donated instead of having to go to the bother of actually crusading themselves and getting all dusty and ill. And because the Templars protected the roads from France and Germany to Palestine, they became bankers by default. They were able to take 1000 ducats from a guy in Dusseldorf, and give it to him when he turned up in Jerusalem, without physically transporting it. Because they had money everywhere, by then, and because people trusted them. They had over 800 big castles and all that. So then they went into banking big style, before it even had a name, and were making loans to kings and nobles here there and everywhere.So then King Philip IV of France went broke (kings did in those days) and decided that a good way of getting his hands on piles of dough was to denounce the Knights Templar for every sort of abomination (read : homosexuality), abolish them, and collect the loot. Which he did, and few tears were shed, just like we seldom boo hoo when the odd banker throws himself from the 86th floor these days. IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME – NO, WAIT A MINUTE – IT'S YOU, NOT METhis book bounces along in a very readable way but hits the buffers and fails, alas, to do some crucial explaining. When people discuss the subject of money, banking, economics, this whole nexus of ideas, there are a couple of holy grail notions that pop up all the time that never get properly explained, and maybe it's that they do get explained but all the explanations can't penetrate my expensive haircut and get through to my actual brain. That is a possibility i have considered. One of these crucial ideas is this thing about THE GOLD STANDARD. One minute it's there because it absolutely has to be, next minute it isn't and everything's still okay. It's like an economy is Wile E Coyote chasing the Roadrunner over a cliff. In the cartoon he's still running in the middle of the air. Then he looks down and realises there's no ground anymore. At that point he falls. But when economies abandon the gold standard they know there's no ground under their feet anymore, they do it consciously, and running in the middle of the air is not a problem. So Mr Weatherfield was able to describe WHAT happened but never explained why or how it was all able to continue or when it didn't work out, why. Then there was hyperinflation, which is when money develops a laughing sickness and goes stark staring mad. It happened in various places at specific times – Germany in the 20s, Bolivia in the 80s. At the end of the miserable couple of years when everyone is going broke, there's no more credit anywhere and cash is worthless, at this point, not before, some big talking suit swans in and says "Okay boys, the new currency will be issued tomorrow, and it will work because I say so" and it does. (Happy days are here again, tra la la - roll another number for grandma). Okay, why didn't the previous financial suit do the same trick?REAL MEANING OF THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD, SERIOUSLY Okay, I bet you all know this like forever, but I didn't. All those times (are they gone forever?) when me & daughter Georgia watched Wizard of Oz together, never once did I realise I was seeing a clever parable about the American economy of the 1890s. But so I was. Innocent Dorothy is on a quest to find out the truth about those eastern bankers who are causing such tornadoes of economic chaos in the Kansas heartlands. On the way she meets representatives of the farmers (Scarecrow), factory workers (Tin Man), and Willian jennings Bryan (Cowardly Lion – the satirical humour is now lost). They form a partY of four which represents the 1894 march of Coxey's Army on Washington (Jack london was involved in similar protests). Marcus Hanna was the financial guru of the Harding administration, he was the Wizard of Oz – Oz is the abbreviation of ounce, we're talking ounces of gold here – the stuff the Yellow Brick Road is paved with, yes, it all makes sense now. As we see, the doughty band of protesters is able to expose the smoke and mirrors of high finance and take the self-imposed blinkers off everyone's eyes – everyone discovers that they already have the economic wherewithall to make a happy and sucessful life. Even the wizard is rehabilitated, once he abandons his lever-pulling and big boomy imprecations. Yes, we're all in it together. We could go back home any time we wanted to. We just didn't know but we always had the power because we are the people. All we have to do is to close our eyes and tap our heels together three times. Oh, Toto!

About Author

  • Jack Weatherford Post author

    Jack McIver Weatherford is the former DeWitt Wallace Professor of anthropology at Macalester College in Minnesota He is best known for his 2004 book, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World His other books include The History of Money Indian Givers How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World and The Secret History of the Mongol Queens How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire.

One thought on “The History of Money

  • THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE BUT YOU CAN KEEP EM FOR THE BIRDS AND BEESOn the second page of the first chapter of this book about money, Jack Weatherford is talking about human sacrifice in the Aztec religion up the long flight of steps to the altar where the priests ripped out his heart later on p 64 we get a description of the Templars being burned to death in 1310 I ll spare you a quote and anyone might think that our author is trying desperately to jive up his boring subject with regular [...]

  • Written by an anthropologist Discusses the history of money and how money from cowerie shells to blips on a screen has affected human societies.IF YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ECONOMICS AND EVEN IF YOU DO, THIS IS THE BEST MOST EASILY ACCESIBLE OVERVIEW EXTREMELY ENTERTAINING AND WELL WRITTEN.

  • It s a definite guide to various versions of money and its impact on culture Money in terms of age is only at its beginning The future will see money evolve above the governments controlling it with the advent of e money The success of e money will be death knell for paper money outside government control I felt the book left a very positive impression of money s future on me, making money an egalitarian factor which could glue the people together breaking the current monopoly of financial secto [...]

  • Such a fine book So accessible, so fully researched Billionaire Charles R Schwab calls it THE book to read about the revolutionary transformation of the meaning and use of money The first chapter covers the origins of money of coins, of trading, of markets in ancient Lydia and it is unforgettable Weatherford s background as an ethnographer whose widely read in economics, including a knowledge of electronic money systems through the late 1990 s, gives his book a historically balanced perspective [...]

  • Lots of interesting historical tidbits and etymologies Offers insightful perspective on the shaping of the modern world Needs a new revision to include bitcoin, etc.

  • As anticipated, the history of money is quite the story From extracting hapless villager hearts to pay off the local deity, to dispersing immaterial numerical bits to win crap off Ebay, this is a most interesting development Weatherford maintains an identifiable structure of three monetary phases, while filling the narrative with any number of fascinating anecdotes The Spanish Mexican Peso was the primary currency of the fledgling US That grants an ironic precedent to my statement last year that [...]

  • According to Herodotus, the Lydians were the first people to use gold and silver coins and the first to establish retail shops in permanent locations This statement of Herodotus is one of the pieces of evidence often cited in behalf of the argument that Lydians invented coinage, at least in the West, even though the first coins were neither gold nor silver but an alloy of the two called electrum This book covers an arc from before the first coinage to the predicted, cash less future As such, it [...]

  • This is what i think of as an airport book a lot of vivid anecdotes, memorable imagery, and lively prose, however beyond that in terms of actual history or historical insight, not much than you could get from reading for an evening After some interesting musings in the first few chapters, the book retreats to cultural trivia alternating with a bare bones history of the mechanics of currency Not that it was boring, but it was not what i was hoping for.Add to this the fact that the author s basic [...]

  • This book is a comprehensive history of the means of exchange through out the ages It brings us right up to the present day well present day when the book was written in 97 The author discusses inflation, intentional devaluation of money, and how we ve arrived at the systems that we have todayough the authors intention did not seem political I learned a lot about politics especially the role government has upon the money supply.I found this book for sale at the library and picked it up because I [...]

  • For someone with no background on this subject this was a good read It is not necessarily an information based book but rather a good entertainer o the topic of how money has evolved through human history and how it has impacted human history at different times I read heard this book on Audible and hence was able to endure through some of the sections of the book where the author goes in bit of a rant mode I believe altogether too much time is spent on the post 1850 era and the book is far too U [...]

  • I really did like the book although it took me awhile to get through it It takes the reader from the times of bartering for goods and services all the way up to our electronic system that we have today It talks a lot about the deflation of paper money due to the lack of metal assets gold, silver, etc and how that happened in the first place There is a ton of info in the book it s at times overwhelming, but I did learn a great deal.

  • recommended to read for those who wants to know if it really is their money bag in the bank deposite box that keeps on shrinking, or the size of the world that keeps growing or like Jack Sparrow in Pirates 3 says, the world has always been the same, its just has less and less in it.

  • Money, get awayGet a good job with pay and you re O.K.Money, it s a gasGrab that cash with both hands and make a stashPink Floyd The History of Money is the history of the world and in this examination, we come to know a little better of where we came from and who we are Beginning with the use of commodity money, such as cowry shells in Africa, salt in China, and animals in general, each was used as a storehouse of value From the use of cattle we have the word pecuniary Latin wealth in cattle a [...]

  • When I went to my sister s graduation this was the book I brung I about read the whole thing there It was a long four hours.The book is separated into three main sections Classic Cash, Paper Money, and Electronic Money.Classic Cash focuses on actual commodities as money Bronze that can be made into tools coffee that could be drunk That sort of thing It chronicles the history of such money from the Aztecs to Croesus to the Knights Templar to the Medici family.Paper money focuses on gold becoming [...]

  • I saw this book while browsing at the library and thought it might be interesting It is I already knew a bit about the subject, although I didn t know that The Wizard of Oz was a satire about the debate on what money should be based upon Apparently, Baum supported basing the dollar on both gold and silver His character Dorothy represented a Populist orator, Leslie Kelsey AKA the Kansas Tornado Oz itself comes from the abbreviation for ounce, which measures the precious metals The Scarecrow repre [...]

  • In my attempt to understand cryptocurrency better I took a step back and tried to understand how currency developed I wanted to know how currency has been used throughout time and how the government has used and abused fiat currency This book did all of that and allowed me to understand the impact a decentralized currency may have on the world If anything, it made me surprised that the current people in charge haven t tried to stomp out cryptocurrency immediately The government s control of cur [...]

  • Very informative review of the development, devaluation and replacement of various forms of currency through time Weatherford concisely follows the establishment of American currency from colonial times through the use of credit cards and Electronic money He then formulates the process of formulating the electronic money and other forms of money for the future.I was particularly interested in his evaluation of the role of governments in the volume and value of it s currency He looks had the resu [...]

  • I really enjoyed the parts of the book where it actually describes the history of money It is rich with lots of interesting information perspectives Also, the author has a great storytelling style The narrative does get draggged down a bit in the last 10% of the book though, once it starts predicting the future and talking about the morality of monetary policies

  • Excellently written Enjoyed learning a obscure world history and interesting explanations to the rise of globalization and our modern market I really wish the author could produce an encore, since this was written before the 2008 recession.

  • 4 3 4 really either or read this 1st off, any writer who makes learning fun is a genius jack weatherford is 1 of these this book his most recent genghis khan the making of the modern world read like novels very accessible utterly fascinating scholarly, but far from stuffy, obtuse, pompous, or confusing i would ve never imagined staying up all night cracked out by my desire to keep reading a book about money, but i did this book reads like an epic narrative, in many ways it is, starting with the [...]

  • A fantastic history that proved to be invaluable in my studies, both for research and for repeating Weatherford is a very learned and very fun writer who is interested in everything from Mayan chocolate money to current electronic mall play money He is definitely a humanities guy, and includes all sorts of little gems like this The market without borders never opens or closes it merely pulses It does not distinguish winter from summer, and it knows neither night nor day It never takes a vacation [...]

  • I started reading this book last summer, then misplaced it for quite a while It took me a while to get back into it It is the kind of book to read in one or two sittings, not ten minutes before I fall asleep It is not a difficult read, but it kind of whips through history, so I needed to pay attention in a mindful way What is the point of reading a book like this if I am not going to learn anything that sticks The book started off pretty strong in tackling such a wide spread topic Keeping things [...]

  • The History of Money is a book that blossoms with unique and colorful facts that flourish into a single lush, story of a worldwide garden It is not simply the past of currency, but a unique lens through which to view the history of humanity Jack Weatherford s detail devoted voice leaves him a professor of the page, providing information in a form as enticing as the most vivid lecture His words are ripe with comparisons and anecdotes that make the knowledge not only easy to digest but memorable F [...]

  • In three words Rock, Paper, Scissors In a way this familiar game traces the arc of embodied and increasingly disembodied money, from minerals and alloys, paper currency and fiat moneys, to the Linden dollars of Second Life, cutoff entirely from the real economy More tritely, need anyone say of the ongoing credit crisis of 2007 08 Any system of debased money collapses The search is on for the stable num raire in the macro.The author does not explicitly complete the picture in terms of anthropolo [...]

  • This is an engaging analysis of the development and evolution of money from man s earliest days to the dawn of the 21st Century Money developed differently in different cultures sea shells, gems, even products themselves constituted the earliest mediums of exchange Gradually, coins were minted and used Paper money later evolved, but was usually backed by something of value normally gold or silver In the United States, FDR was the first president to begin to move us away from the gold standard Al [...]

  • Filthy lucre Money both fascinates and disgusts me The things I learned from The History of Money intensified both feelings Throughout the history of mankind, money has been closely intertwined with nearly all forms of evil On the other hand, it has been the means of bringing about much good in the world.I didn t like how Weatherford tried to sensationalize a discussion of money with detailed tales of Aztec human sacrifice and knights being burned to death I find the concepts interesting enough [...]

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