War and Gold

War and Gold

A 500-year History of Empires, Adventures, and Debt

Book - 2014
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The world was wild for gold. After discovering the Americas, and under pressure to defend their vast dominion, the Habsburgs of Spain promoted gold and silver exploration in the New World with ruthless urgency. But, the great influx of wealth brought home by plundering conquistadors couldn't compensate for the Spanish government's extraordinary military spending, which would eventually bankrupt the country multiple times over and lead to the demise of the great empire.

Gold became synonymous with financial dependability, and following the devastating chaos of World War I, the gold standard came to express the order of the free market system. Warfare in pursuit of wealth required borrowing -- a quickly compulsive dependency for many governments. And when people lost confidence in the promissory notes and paper currencies issued during wartime, governments again turned to gold.

In this captivating historical study, Kwarteng exposes a pattern of war-waging and financial debt -- bedmates like April and taxes that go back hundreds of years, from the French Revolution to the emergence of modern-day China. His evidence is as rich and colorful as it is sweeping. And it starts and ends with gold.
Publisher: New York, New York :, PublicAffairs,, 2014, ©2014.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781586487683
Branch Call Number: 332. 4222 KWA
Characteristics: 424 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm


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May 23, 2017

The title is very misleading: its not that much about war, even less about gold, and four hundred of the five hundred years it claims to be about are left behind after only eighty pages. So its really a financial history of the USA and UK in the twentieth and early twenty first century, beginning with an historical background, and with additional chapters on Europe (focussing on the common market and the Euro), Japan, China, and the recent Greek debacle. The writing is clear, but its easy to find oneself asking 'but why?' and 'why does this mean that?', though perhaps those with knowledge of international finance and its terminology, would, I suppose be able to follow it.

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