Margot's Reviews > Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World

Lords of Finance by Liaquat Ahamed
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's review
Apr 02, 2013

it was ok
bookshelves: non-fiction, finance, economics, biography, svwc-2012-speakers, audio-books, 2013
Read from March 16 to 30, 2013

Lords of Finance explores the actions and decisions of the world's bankers of the time that eventually led to the Great Depression of 1929-1935+. For my part, I had no idea how large a role World War I played in the financial turmoil that eventually led to the GD. I learned more about World War I in this book (despite it supposedly being a book about events that happened a decade later), than I ever knew before. In fact, I felt the book was a bit misleading in implying a focus on the Great Depression and its causes. It would have been better marketed as a book about WWI and the financial aftermath thereto, that eventually led to the Great Depression.

I listened to Lords of Finance in audio, which made it palatable. But the information was often presented quite dryly, so that I don't think I would have even tried to make it through in print. Plus, the book is rather a beast, at almost 600 pages in hardback. The part I found most interesting was that about the U.S. stock market, leading up to the crash of 1929. It was one of the only times I felt like I was reading something relevant and relatable to me (as a U.S. citizen). Otherwise, Ahamed never quite managed to give me something to stand on in his narrative, to connect me to this world of a century ago. How did the contracting economy of Germany after the war affect its citizens daily lives? What does unchecked inflation mean for the mother running to the store to buy milk? He touches on some of these questions with the briefest and vaguest of explanations. But the whole book really would have benefited from the use of more personal accounts. I not only want to know about the bankers who caused this world-wide financial catastrophe. I also want to know how that catastrophe affected the world.

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