"It was in a high-school library in suburban Los Angeles in the late 1980s, when I was fifteen years old, that I first read about a tiny tropical coun"It was in a high-school library in suburban Los Angeles in the late 1980s, when I was fifteen years old, that I first read about a tiny tropical country called Equatorial Guinea, where the president had once lined up his political opponents in a football stadium and had them gunned down to the accompaniment of rock music. It was the kind of story that sticks in your head, and I became something of an Equatorial Guinea junkie after that." (preface xv)
"Student of North Africa will quickly notice that this book, like so many others purporting to be about "Africa," focuses almost entirely on countries south of the Sahara and will perhaps query the decision, given that Egypt and Algeria are both significant oil and gas producers and Libya is rapidly increasing its output. But while the nations of the Maghreb are no less "African" than those south of the Sahara, my goal here has been to avoid the far more familiar terrain of Arab (and, by extension, North African) oil politics. Some will consider this a criminal omission, but any attempt to shoehorn in a superficial discussion of these countries in the absence of a larger exposition of Arab history and politics would, I would argue, have been the greater crime." (preface footnote, xvi)...more
I really enjoyed this book. Ferguson presents a quite readable narrative arc for the history of currency and finance in the West (although subtitled AI really enjoyed this book. Ferguson presents a quite readable narrative arc for the history of currency and finance in the West (although subtitled A financial history of the "world" it does focus on the western world). I highly recommend it!
A taste: "A society that expects most individuals to take responsibility for the management of their own expenditure and income after tax, that expects most adults to own their own homes and that leaves it to the individual to determine how much to save for retirement and whether or not to take out health insurance, is surely storing up trouble for the future by leaving its citizens so ill-equipped to make wise finance decisions." (14)
"The intangible character of most money today is perhaps the best evidence of its true nature. What the conquistadors failed to understand is that money is a matter of belief, even faith: belief in the person paying us, belief in the person issuing the money he uses or the institution that honours his cheques or transfers. Money is not metal. It is trust inscribed." (31)...more