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Millionaire: The Philanderer, Gambler, and Duelist Who Invented Modern Finance

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  234 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 10th 2001 by Simon & Schuster (first published May 1st 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mar 14, 2016 Daphne rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-paper, quest
This is completely the type of biography I wouldn't normally pick up. I bought it on a whim from Amazon, and was REALLY glad I did. Not only is Jon Law incredibly interesting in himself, but the people surrounding him were just as fascinating. The author does a superb job of telling the story without flourish, but keeping it constantly interesting. I absolutely abhor history/biography books that are 50% or more conjecture. It means that you never once can actually believe the author, and so you ...more
George Cooper
Feb 19, 2014 George Cooper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Moneymaker is a fantastic story, it really should be made into a movie. It will teach you more economics than most economics text books with much less effort. For anyone wanting to understand money and financial instability this is a good place to start.
Jan 27, 2010 Shannon rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those who are interested in money
France in 1700's tries an experiment under the direction of John Law (a Scotsman) with paper money backed by deposited coins (but not completely)...and it all falls apart due to over inflated stock prices and frenzy over making scads of money sounds like just yesterday.
Benedict Reid
It is interesting. But it's not really engaging. And I felt that the details overwhelmed the main thread of the story. To be honest, it read like a publish PhD.
This was a decent read but not the most exciting book.

The general view Gleeson takes of Law is quite positive. This seems to have been a result of gradually changing opinion of Law in various studies of his life over the time from when he lived to now. As far as I understand it, not having read any other sources except wikipedia, Law was basically seen as a villian, clever but thoroughly dishonest, for some time after his life. Then gradually the biographies and studies began to take a more posi
Jan 22, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it
I suspect that this story loses something if the raeder does not have a grasp on banking and trading. Absent the time frame, one could deduce that nothing has changed. Financial systems still collapse and maverick financiers can still rock governments. One of the author's observations rings true today, and that is:

....people's desire to make as much money for as little effort as possible,their instinct to follow the heard, to hoard when threatened, to panic if confidence is shaken.
Mar 28, 2010 Beth rated it really liked it
This book was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. It covered some very complex topics (finance, politics, etc) with interesting prose, and with the feel of an actual story. It managed to stay away from being dry or boring, and yet is very well researched, true to the facts, and does a good job of staying away from supposition or falsehood.
Londonmabel Mabel
Just wasn't doing it for me--stopped reading.
Jan 08, 2017 Appu rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn to this book by the decision of the government of India to demonetize high denomination currency notes.This is a biography of John Law who was one of the pioneers of paper money. In 18th century France, as controller of finance, he introduced paper currency fully backed by gold and silver. According to him scarcity of money was holding back economic growth. This diagnosis was proved right as France witnessed sudden economic growth. Law also started a joint stock company to settle and ...more
Andreas Lorenz
Nov 15, 2016 Andreas Lorenz rated it it was amazing
En elegant og interessant bog om John Law, som kan siges at være manden, der gav det intellektuelle grundlag for moderne finans, nemlig adskillelsen af nytte og værdi, som igen var grundlaget for indførslen af papirpenge på baggrund af værdien af landbrugsjord og guld. Dermed var grundlaget for kreditdrevet boom og bust lagt, hvilket også præcist var, hvad man fik i Frankrig, som var det første land, der indførst papirøkonomi i fuld skala.

Vigtig historisk viden for at forstå moderne konjunkturc
Riley Haas
Jan 05, 2017 Riley Haas rated it liked it
"This is a brief, cursory biography as these things go. It's certainly interesting but the predominant feeling I am left with after finishing is "I want to know more." Gleeson says she didn't want to get bogged down in financial details to make this accessible to the general reader but the problem is that her thesis is significantly hurt by her unwillingness (or inability) to discuss the financial moves of Law in greater detail. This is much more a portrait of a person than it is a discussion of ...more
Frank Stein
Jul 22, 2014 Frank Stein rated it liked it

John Law has to be one of the most fascinating men of the 18th century. The son of self-made goldsmith in Scotland, he rose to be one of the richest people in Europe, then the most powerful man in France, and finally a hated bankrupt chased across the continent for the remainder of his life.

The hidden secret of Law's success, as this book shows, is that after some early gambling losses, he took to studying the new science of probability created by Pascal and others. During this era of obsessive
Mei Yue
Sep 16, 2016 Mei Yue marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
When one will become rich, is a matter of the combination of timing and occasions. Once it is a matter of occasions but lacking timing, it lacks and these successful events won't have been happened once it lacks. Lacking, however, is a critical point on succeeding or failing of a certain event as to be viewed as a ignition point from the sightedness of humanity. Humane behaviour is based upon the innate view as regarding oneself as humanity and this has been reflected from the same ignition poin ...more
Jul 27, 2010 Bluenose rated it liked it
This book is all there is to know about John Law, a Scotsman who came to rule French finances for a brief period under the regency during Louis XV’s minority. And boy did he fuck it up. He takes France through a great financial boom (the first, the author asserts but this can’t be true) and then the rapidly following spectacular, and for Law, fatal, bust.

The author leaves detailed explanations aside and sticks with the historical record and some sweeping assertions. There’s quite a bit about La
Kate  K. F.
Dec 03, 2015 Kate K. F. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never expected to read so avidly a book about finance but Millionaire was fascinating. John Law lived a dangerous life and helped to create many of the ideas of how the modern world of finance works such as a major focus on paper money, bonds, companies that did many things and tax reform. He also happened to be a duelist and a gambler, someone who shifted the world around him. I feel informed and look forward to reading more of Gleeson's books because she writes in an easy to read style that' ...more
Oct 15, 2012 Ian rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
An informative, well written and well researched story of a grand con artist. This chap persuades the French government to allow him to set up a national bank, and he proceeds to swindle everyone else while enriching himself. This is against a background of extreme poverty by the majority of the French population. An insight into the inherent indifference the banking and financial system have towards people. 2008 et al.
Alex K.
Apr 07, 2007 Alex K. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in the study of economics.
Shelves: finished
Millionaire is a historical sketch on an individual who pretty much swindled his life away; but still managed to stay in high ranking society. It is a very fun read, and it does not manage to dive to deep into the actual economics behind what the individual featured founded. (Some charts or equations would of been very useful.) Worth a read if you want to look at economics and get a specific look at one obscure individual out of the trillions of history.
Lindsay Goto
Jun 21, 2015 Lindsay Goto rated it really liked it
Well written and interesting to read, this book gives us not only a look into the life of John Law, but also paints a vivid picture of the world that he lived in. I never realized there could be complex economic states in the past that were comparable to the economic ecosystem of today. It seems fitting that the stock market was the brain child of a gambler. Even though some of the economics are beyond me, Gleeson makes Law's world easily accessible.
Jun 19, 2015 Voss rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
La solita bolla speculativa che torna costantemente nel corso del tempo in varie forme ma sempre con le stesse modalità.
Oltre alla solita storia, racconta naturalmente il protagonista John Law, l'inventore dell'economia moderna in tutti i suoi lati positivi e negativi.
Un uomo e il suo sogno e la passione con cui l'ha perseguito e un affresco dell'epoca che concede poco alla fantasia.
Bill Churchill
Aug 10, 2014 Bill Churchill rated it it was amazing
A biography of John Law, founder of the Louisiana Company--France's answer to the England's East India Company. I would hardly call him the father of modern Finance as modern finance had many fathers, (and mothers), over a long period of time. Nevertheless, this is a fine biography of a most interesting charlatan.
Feb 18, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating and eloquently told true story of John Law, a naive Scottish murderer-gambler and economic genius who virtually invented modern money in 18th Century France. First millionaires, financial bubble and hectic stock trading debauchery.
Mar 18, 2015 Sue rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Started out fine, then just went downhill.

Did not appreciate the fancy, archaic terms probably intended to enhance the text by alleging authenticity of the era. Served more to detract than enhance--like bumps in the road.
An interesting story of the historical beginnings of international finance. Found this at a really interesting libertarian bookstore in Riverside, CA which has a wide variety of interesting books on history and current events.
Apr 27, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing
Fantastically well written. An engaging and compelling historic truth. Helps to easily understand complex Financial products and situations in today's world. Easily demonstrates why our current system is so corrupt and bankrupt.
Nov 13, 2014 Pupsi rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, history
Occasionally you find a character from history, that is larger than any fictional character. John Law was such a man. Enjoyed this book, it was easy to follow and gave an engaging account of his life and impact he had on France.

Jul 25, 2007 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great reading the daily train commute I was taking at the time; eighteenth century history is not for everyone, but I found this book fascinating- a glimpse into the world of speculation.
I was worried at the beginning that the author was going to be a John Law apologist but after finishing it I felt that this was a pretty balanced account.
Nov 19, 2016 Mckinley rated it it was ok
More on the sensational side of the life of John Law. Not as much economics and banking as I had hoped there would be.
Susan Samuel
Sep 25, 2012 Susan Samuel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book full of fact's I had not come across presented as an entertaining & compelling tale. History pertaining to finance is rarely so entertaining.
Oct 29, 2015 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I think that if you study economics or the stock market, this will be interesting. For me though, it was confusing and slow. Not quite my cup of tea.
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