The History of Money

The History of Money

by Jack Weatherford


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780609801727
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/28/1998
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 374,796
Product dimensions: 5.05(w) x 7.97(h) x 0.66(d)

About the Author

Jack Weatherford is the New York Times bestselling author of Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern WorldIndian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the WorldThe Secret History of the Mongol Queens, and The History of Money, among other acclaimed books. A specialist in tribal peoples, he was for many years a professor of anthropology at Macalester College in Minnesota and now divides his time between the United States and Mongolia.

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History of Money 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
APWORLDisHARD More than 1 year ago
The History of Money, by Jack Weatherford, is an in-depth summary of how and why money came to be such a prominent part of our world. I felt that it was a well written book intended for the casually interested reader, instead of something to be used for information and facts. This, however, is a good thing, for it managed to keep my interest on something that seems like a boring topic. However, sometimes the repetitiveness in a few of the chapters was a definite annoyance. Over all, though, it is an interesting read that helps to explain how money and commerce managed to effect everything from the spread of Christianity to the start of the Renaissance. While I did enjoy this book, I feel that only certain types of people should read this book, for at times it can be quite tedious. Only those with an invested interest in history would like this book. Also, some of Weatherford's ideas on the future economical techniques see quite farfetched and it is hard to quite grasp what he is trying to propose. As a whole though, he took a boring subject and turned it into readable nonfiction, though there could have been some improvements
Cress67 More than 1 year ago
The History of Money, by Jack Weatherford, is, as stated on the cover, a history of money. It goes over how money came into being, how it has aided civilizations, and how it has brought empires to their knees. This book was written in a manner that kept me interested and yet was still able to convey some meaningful facts and statistics throughout its length. The book goes over the different kinds of money that have been used in history, such as food items, luxury items, shells, coinage, paper money, and digital money, and goes over the pros/cons of most of them. For example, it is stated that "commodity money", such as food, was less useful for stockpiling wealth due to the fact that many of the objects contained in that category are perishable or will otherwise lose their value due to wear or exposure over a period of time. Overall, I would have to say that this is a great book that you should read if you want to learn about money, its use throughout history, and its effect on such spheres as religion and culture. While I thought that the book was quite interesting, others may not think that it is. He repeats many things multiple times in short spans, and the writing can be somewhat boring at times. Nevertheless, it is a good nonfiction book, as it manages to grasp the reader's attention in some manner, unlike so many other nonfictions books which inspire boredom in those that read them.
meggyweg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent book chock full of information and ideas I had never really given much thought to before. The author's project was ambitious -- cover money around the world from its invention up to the present day -- and, impressively, he delivered, and without being too inclusive or long-winded.I think this book was kind of dated, though. It was published in 1997 and a lot has changed in the past twelve years, what with online shopping and banking and so on becoming so big and so on. I wish the author would publish a second edition, updated to the present day. But times are changing so fast anyway, probably a second edition would be outdated within a year or two.
mjgrogan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 the Dollar is the new Peso of the world. The author notes the perfect, though somewhat disturbing logic to the later addition/replacement of ¿In God We Trust¿ on our buck (indeed the nickname for deer skins which previously represented an important monetary vehicle for the early settlers). In short, great Trivial Pursuit factoids, but also a fun read.At least until the last ¿Phase.¿ Comparatively this part seems a bit tepid as the author expounds upon the digital age. Necessary as this is to his thesis, the contemporaniety of this portion makes much of this segment seem somewhat typical and incongruously speculative in relation to the fairly bizarre, earlier development of monetary history. In fact, the baseless nature of electronic ¿money¿ might be read as the opposite of ye olde silver coinage, cowrie shells, and bowls of goat milk utilized to buy whatever. Or at least, if I read this correctly, this is the next great transmogrification into the as-yet unknown. Perhaps it¿s his concluding pages that bummed me out a bit. Here the focus is on the cadre of ¿young, single, male¿ currency traders whose rash, loosely-informed guesswork controls global monetary valuations more than any other production or governmental factors (circa 1997 anyway). Whether this is overstated or not, it certainly seems to tie into our current situation. Can¿t wait for the ensuing unknown¿
johnclaydon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Written at an extremely low level and not actually a history of money.
LesPhillips on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Weatherford's book is a good introduction to the evolution of money and the associated abstract thinking it engendered. He suggests that money came first and the abstractions of mathematics, science and engineering followed. I see this as a chicken-egg debate, since it would take a serious shift of paradigm to envision using a scrap of mulberry paper, stamped with the Chinese Emporor's stamp to replace gold and silver coins as currency. European traders adapted, probably with some trepidation, to the Chinese regulations because they were motivated to trade. However, they quickly understood the benefits of such a system. The History of Money is a good read that gave me numerous moments when I thought, "So that's why it's called ..." or "I wondered about that." Even though the book was published in 1997 it does a nice job of laying the foundations for today's growing digital monetary system. I've put Weatherford on my list of Authors to read and will keep any eye out for other books of his.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Money can be so ambiguous in todays world I never stopped to think about it's history before reading this book, but I'm glad I did. Filled with interesting facts and a thorough chronology of it's history. Although it does stop just shy of the invention of Bitcoin and blockchain technology.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The History of Money by Jack Weatherford is a good book to read, depending on your interest and motive. If there is no motive to learn about the impact of banking and money on different groups or civilizations, this book will not be interesting and will seem boring. However, if there is interest, I would heavily recommend this book. The History of Money goes through the civilizations impacted by money and economic systems, starting with the Aztecs with Cacao Beans to modern day money systems. It talks about what leaders did to confront economic problems, such as Roman Emperors and French kings. Also, it discusses different groups like the Templars who made banking systems. Overall, The History of Money is an excellent book to read for those interested in economic systems
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