Review: The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World
The book is an overview of the history of finance and banking, from its rudimentary origins in Mesopotamia and Europe to the current financial engineering from Wall St. I think it stands as a very accessible entry gate to this particular world (“Planet Finance” as he calls it) and does a good job at presenting the topic in both an attractive and easy to understand for a non-familiarized audience.
On the minus side, I would highlight the fact that the author is clearly biased and very partial in several passages of the book. His conservative views, “understanding” of the right-wing rich world and uneasiness with more liberal characters such as P. Krugman or G. Soros make the more left-wing reader feel like he is only being shown one part of the story. In effect, there are very few instances where the author alludes to the social consecuences of some of the financial decisions made by the brilliant and successful people he presents and seems to adore. The good news is that it is so obvious when he is being partial that it makes it easier to catch and allows to better cast a shadow of doubt and criticism, something absent in the manuscript.
All in all, I think it is a book that does a decent job at educating a broad audicence and that, although (or rather because) it takes a long-term perspective, today more than ever is a recommened read.