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Gold: The Race for the World’s Most Seductive Metal

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  237 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
From the lost empires of the Sahara to today’s frenzied global gold rush, a blazing exploration of the human love affair with gold by the award-winning author of Diamond.

From the lost empires of the Sahara to today’s frenzied global gold rush, a blazing exploration of the human love affair with gold by Matthew Hart, the award-winning author of Diamond

In the wake of the 200
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published December 3rd 2013 by Simon & Schuster (first published May 9th 2013)
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(showing 1-30)
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Chris Chester
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
As somebody with a not insignificant position in precious metals, this was a fairly instructive book for me.

My bet on metals was, as Hart explains at a certain point in the book, a hedge against the the inherently instability of the current monetary system.

The problem is that, while it is an effective hedge, it still carries no inherent value besides what people give it. Or, as Hart says at one point, what you are realistically able to redeem in a moment of crisis. If the economy collapses in a
Jul 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Our collective attitude towards gold is odd. Although the stuff has few practical uses and hasn't been linked in any official way to currency since President Richard Nixon took the United States off the gold standard embedded in the Bretton Woods accord, many still view it as a safe place to store wealth. If the price of the stuff wasn't so volatile, and if the stuff could be readily exchanged for everyday needs, that might be true. But it isn't.

Although Hart devotes a few pages to the place of
Feb 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
I found this to be a fairly interesting read. He looks a bit at the history of how gold was used by other past cultures in an artistic way, or in a sacramental way, and then how it was used as a store for wealth and sought by European explorers. He explains how the dollar became the world's reserve currency and at what point the dollar was removed from the gold standard. He travels all over the world to gold-mining sites (which all sounded rather hellish). When economic times seem insecure, inve ...more
David Shane
Jul 22, 2015 rated it liked it
A good book when you're looking for a light, low-stress non-fiction read. The twelve chapters tell twelve largely independent stories about the history, geology, politics, and economics of gold.

What I didn't like:

1. Many times during the book the author says something that gives me the impression he's just now learning about all of this stuff himself too. Which just doesn't give the non-fiction reader much confidence. I felt like I knew more about some of the information covered than he did. Wha
Yishen Kuik
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great insight into the industry of gold
Jul 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I picked this up on a bit of a whim, interested in learning a little more about South African gold mines, and thinking that the book was entirely about those particular mines. The book ended up being much more expansive, and it quickly moved up the queue in my reading stack.

Hart takes the reader on a journey across all of human history, and examines the social, political, and monetary aspects of gold as well as touching on the physical process of mining.

I was familiar with the first few gold ru
Angus Mcfarlane
Jun 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, reviewed
When the first chapter of a book is spent translating imperial measurements into metric and working through parochial comparisons (between mine depth and Long Island) I was concerned this would not be the book I was hoping for. As it turned out it got better, but left much to be desired, ironic as that might be considering the topic.

The general gist is the modern infatuation with gold, from Spanish conquistadors, the gold standard and the recent spike in gold price (it was written before most of
Varun Chadha
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Read this book with no expectation as such as this arena of gold investing and trading tangentially scratches my daily life.
Gold in India has always held it's own position - commodity of desire for Indian women as jewellery, commodity to depict elitism and of course as commodity of trade. Lately government imposed stiff tariff on gold import as high demand for gold in India(less of investment and more of commodity to possess) brought severe financial deficits for the govt. Appropriately one dai
Matthew John
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, it has been on my Want-to-Read list for sometime now, and with week away I plunged head first into it.

The descriptions of underground mining cities plagued by Grey Ghosts or the haze of jungle swamps are truly gripping and at times it felt like I was reading an adventure novel.

I work in the mining industry and some of the companies mentioned are customers of mine, so I found it interesting to learn more about their operations but at the same time to lear
Reasonably enjoyable, but a bit of a mishmash at times. The author's main interest is in business rivalries and trading systems, and this is the book's main theme. In that sense the subtitle "The Race for the World's Most Seductive Metal" is accurate, since this is mainly about competition between businesses (and criminals) to control as much of the gold trade as possible. I don't know how the author came to choose the particular examples that are featured, but it may have been that he simply ch ...more
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Granted, part of the reason for that is because I work in and have a Masters in International Politics and International Economics, so international trade, monetary theory, development, risk analysis, investing, etc. are all incredibly interesting to me and something that I've spent years studying, but it's also well written and brings in interesting bits of history, modern industrial mining (fascinating), cultural desire for gold, and enormous fluctuations in the val ...more
Stephanie Hatch
I got this book from goodreads first reads. The hook story at the beginning didn't really grab my attention so the book and I got off in the wrong foot. It was actually a pretty fun read without being over technical. Some of the older history is pretty glossy and doesn't do much in terms of explaining or showcasing our collective fixation on gold but the more modern day stuff is written about really engagingly. The odd travelogue first person parts really caught me off guard (it reminded me a bi ...more
Ranjeev Dubey
Aug 18, 2014 rated it liked it
With so many gushing reviews of this book floating around, there is little purpose in writing another but here are my thoughts:

1. The title suggests more than it delivers. The topic is too vast for its 230 pages of text. What you get is a dipstick exploration, titillating, entertaining but ultimately, by no means the whole story. The history is a browse at best, there are about three hunt stories and the fever is not explained, only noted.

2. The book is best for those who know little about the s
Muath Aziz
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Starts with a dramatic chapter about gold mining in South Africa. I love how the book is written/narrated in a personal way. The author is telling us his hands-on adventures in gold mines around the globe. Also, covering historical aspects such as Spaniards whom thanks to them thousands-of-years gold art of South America civilizations is forever lost :)

The book covers economical aspects of gold too, introduced smoothly within backing stories of gold discoveries explaining why the economy changed
Anna Shabalov
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
I won this book from a GoodReads Giveaway contest.

I read Diamond earlier this year and loved it, so I was really looking forward to Gold. I was not disappointed. Hart is a great writer, moving quickly and clearly through sometimes complicated material (financial transactions and the international gold market) and managing to craft an educational, wide-ranging, but also really exciting story. Its easy to make the more exotic and dangerous parts of gold mining exciting - its been the stuff of adve
Christopher Obert
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2014
This was a very interesting book on gold, the history of gold, gold’s effect on mankind, the methods for mining gold, the use of gold as currency and how gold affects crime and political systems. The book was well written and was full of amazing facts, many of which I did not know. The author of the book, Matthew Hart, has traveled the world to uncover gold’s incredible story. The book moves along very quickly and does not spend too much time on any one topic. If you are looking for an in depth ...more
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Writing in a similar style to Michael Lewis (meaty topic, with colorful stories woven in), although not as good (a high bar, I admit). I learned about how much more volatile the gold markets have become since the US dollar decoupled from the gold standard and since derivative trading brought gold selling and buying to the masses. Great place to play if you are a hedge fund manager (although they get burned too), but maybe not so great for the small investor. Worth a quick read if you like that k ...more
Dec 31, 2013 rated it liked it
A history of gold, a metallic substance that drives humans wild and where they'll scour the earth to find it in remote places. The author gives us a little history of the Spanish invaders in Peru during the Inca Civilization, as well as gold in California during the "Gold Rush." As well, he details how gold is extracted from ore with bleaching chemicals such as cyanide and mercury. He delves into the financial markets as describing gold as a commodity and how many governments are hording it in t ...more
Jan 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
This gets a 1 star for lacking any positive characteristic of note. Exciting topic, timely, important, and we get this turd of a book? Incoherent, lacking in any theme or common structure, and completely devoid of voice, character, or spunk. There's no meat here at all, just random unconnected ancedotes and dry as the Sahara reporting.

Maybe I'm jaded as I'm an expert in the arena of gold investing, but I'd expect to learn at least one or two new things from a feature length book on the subject.
Paul Mullen
Jan 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Hart's recounting of the many ways that culture has interacted with and valued Gold is really interesting. The places and events that have been impacted by the way that people think of gold is surprising to me. It also seems to be unbelievably inefficient (Tons of earth processed to get ounces of gold.)

Hart's recounting is educational and fulfilling. There is no unifying theme or conclusion for those looking for a philosophical reward at the end, but the history may be value in itself.
May 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Somewhat interesting gold stories through history and now (including some obvious stories - Inca...). Gold discovery usually brought misery to the people around the area. Only a small fraction of the gold traded are actually used or needed. Not really a stable holder of value due to dramatic price volatility. Thrives on unstable environment. Provides basics background of gold exploration and mining.
I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads. I enjoyed this book. It provides the reader with an overview of some current and past mining practices, ancient and modern day discoveries of gold deposits, and trading practices (fair and unfair). The author describes trips during his research, interviews key personalities of the trade and gives some vivid descriptions of historical events in the gold industry.
Graham Page
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book reads like a thriller keeping you informed, engaged, and reading through to the end. While not an exhausting treatise, it is packed with great information and really expands your knowledge of the history of gold, the pricing of gold, the current exploration for gold, and even how gold is refined. Very worth the read and you will come away with a greater understanding of the process and the thrill of gold, in fact, you may even get gold fever!
Tom Schulte
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
this is a fascinating microhistory that starts and ends in Africa. the beginning with mass, large scale organized criminal mining turning skin grey is much more impactful than the anticlimactic ending on conflict mining and Chinese accumulation of mineral rights. in the middle are interesting reviews of gold as currency, the mysterious trading in gold today, the geology of gold, and more.

(I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.)
Tom Schulte
Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
this is a fascinating microhistory that starts and ends in Africa. the beginning with mass, large scale organized criminal mining turning skin grey is much more impactful than the anticlimactic ending on conflict mining and Chinese accumulation of mineral rights. in the middle are interesting reviews of gold as currency, the mysterious trading in gold today, the geology of gold, and more.

(I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.)
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I think this author got very caught up in his research. There are some interesting bits of history, but then there is a huge amount of detail about some very specific gold mining events. I was hoping for more of an overview. I was about 150 pages into this when it came due at the library, so I returned it. I don't think I'll check it out to finish it.
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaway
This book is a good read, and although I expected it to be somewhat dry, it was interesting the whole way through.

It's fairly broad, but I though that an advantage, making it accessible to the common public and a good introduction and jumping off point on the topic. I felt the author did extensive research, and gave a great narrative of gold, it's history and it's uses to the present day.
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I thought it seemed like a rather random choice of subject matter but the end result is actually a fascinating book, filled with interesting nuggets of information, if you'll excuse the pun !

(full review on my blog : http://madhousefamilyreviews.blogspot...)
David V.
Received as an ARC from the publisher. Started on 11-17-13. Finished on 11-23-13. I thought it was going to be a history of gold, but it was more an economic history---gold's impact on a country's economy, and vice versa, and since I never studied Econ, parts of the book were very confusing. More suited to economists and investment brokers than history buffs.
Jen Juenke
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book had so much potential. It starts off with peoples/cultures hunt for gold. From the prologue to the chapters, it was a sloppy mix. The book would jump from the Americas, to the ancient Incas, to modern day China. There was not a common thread between the chapters. I quit reading it after 60% of the book. This book needs more balance.
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Goodreads Librari...: Wrong author 3 17 Jan 23, 2015 01:41PM  
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Matthew Hart was an experienced newspaper and magazine reporter when he wrote Golden Giant, the story of a 1980 gold rush and staking battle on the north shore of Lake Superior. Ten years later he was hooked by another mining rush, this time diamonds. His award-winning Diamond: the History of a Cold-Blooded Love Affair, recounted the 1990 discovery and staking rush that uncovered the world’s third ...more
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