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God and Gold

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  231 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
A stunningly insightful account of the global political and economic system, sustained first by Britain and now by America, that has created the modern world.

The key to the two countries' predominance, Mead argues, lies in the individualistic ideology inherent in the Anglo-American religion. Over the years Britain and America's liberal democratic system has been repeatedl
Paperback, 464 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2007)
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Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Four-and-a-half-stars. Superbly written. Well-argued and diversely-referenced. Liberally spiced with wit. Considerably persuasive. Weaknesses, flaws, and omissions bark but do not bite. Authorial conjecture and induction provide a bevy of counter-intuitive and starkly clarifying insights. Lack of respect for Canada regrettable but, in the end, understandable. Confirms me in my Anglophilia and accentuates the aptitude of my being labelled as a Yank lover.

I had a few misgivings going into this, bu
Feb 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
God and Gold could be the primary, and only text, for a graduate seminar in global studies. It is a learned, complex, and yet accessible study of how "modernity" (sometimes referred to as "the west") was given birth by three successive maritime nations--Holland, the U.K, and the U.S.-- each adept in promoting prosperity through trade, innovations in finance (joint stock companies, stock markets, houses of exchange and corresponding banks) and sea-based geo-political supremacy.

In Mead's account H
Lauren Albert
I found the book's triumphalism more and more irritating though Mead interrupts it sometimes with modesty on "our" behalf. The problem is that there is a lot of truth here but oversimplified. Panglossian as one reviewer noted. I did like his section on terrorism where he points out that Islamic extremists are not bringing anything new into the world and he gives a list of earlier groups. I can't help thinking that if he'd toned down his panting enthusiasm, it would have been a better book.
Sean Chick
Feb 05, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There are two types of anglophiles. The fun ones and the bores. Fun ones watch Doctor Who, listen to the Kinks, and know about Britain's highs and lows. The bores talk about "special" English virtues. You can see them crying for the empire, arguing for "free" trade, and talking about how Britain was the only light of liberty in a world covered in darkness. Mead falls in the later camp.
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
One of the most insightful books on the modern world and how we got here, concentrating on Anglo-Saxons who, according to Mead, ushered and cemented in capitalism, liberal democracy and modernism as we know it.
Paul D.  Miller
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ir, history
This book is mis-titled. It should be "Capitalism, World History, and the Meaning of Life." The scope, sweep, and ambition of this work is staggering. The final chapter is titled "The Meaning of It All." He really means "All."

Mead is ridiculously erudite. He quotes poetry alongside descriptions of early modern British history, gives short digressions on the history of technological progress, has a brief chapter in the invention of modern finance, and summarizes most world religions in an aside o
Robert LoBretto
Aug 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lengthy and informative prose. Loaded with heavy content. Thoroughly researched. This is a comprehensive study of the beginning, the development, the back-sliding, the maturity and utter domination of the liberal(economic) capitalist system. It will explain how the English speaking peoples of the world have developed the greatest most successful economic system the world has ever seen; and how this system has brought about the wealth of its participants and the envy and hatred of those left behi ...more
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Mead's monstrous tome on yesterday and today's maritime powers is everything a historical book should be: insightful, well documented, balanced and most of all entertaining. It is a powerful work that seeks to explore one of the greatest ascendancies of history, the rise of the Anglo-American maritime system hegemony and its foundations in Weberian theological asceticism and Smithian 'invisible hand' market society. While that might seem a bit dull it most assuredly is not. The book is written w ...more
Walter Russell Mead is a genius, and this is a very brilliant and persuasive analysis of the similarities between American and British worldviews and how the two have come to dominate the modern world... I highly recommend this.
Sep 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't be fooled by the title, this book is truly a must read if you spend any time thinking about America's place in the world.

Douglas Wilson
Fascinating history.
Andrew Carr
Some books become greater than the sum of their parts. Others, like ‘God & Gold’ feel like the parts are still at war with each other. Which is perhaps ironic given Walter Russel Mead’s (WRM) central praise of the pluralistic and competitive nature of Anglo-American societies.

The book sets out to tell the story of the impact of Britain and America on the world as a joint project. Along the way there are some sparkling sections of insight and provocation. WRM is one of the best analysts of U
Jun 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
This is a history of the Anglo-Saxon "maritime order." Mead differentiates the Anglo-Saxon ascendancy from the rest of Europe (and the world) by their effective use of naval power to dominate global trade and foreign policy. This is a fascinating perspective on the world and how Britain and America have come to dominate, why they will continue to do so--even in the face of massive sovereign debt.

Mead's perspective as an historian gives him a great deal of optimism (as an Anglo-Saxon anyway) in A
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
People who read Walter Russell Mead’s work, God and Gold, doesn’t need one lengthy introduction from this review.

The encyclopedic book somewhat influenced my views on religion, among other things. Published in 2007, months before the ascent of a new US President and the so-called Great Financial Crisis, it offered what many popular works at the time simply did not bear: God.

The emphasis on behalf of the populace (the so-called American wasps) was nothing new, and neither an only-in-America phen
Nov 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"If empires of evil have much in common across the centuries, so too do alliances for good. America and its Cold War allies, like the Protestant allies of Cromwell's England, were fighting for more than their own -- perish the thought -- selfish interests. Their fight is the fight for good, right, and human rights everywhere." (23)

"The passion for simplicity and the belief that simple is forceful shapes Anglo-American life in many ways. Cutting to the chase, paring the fripperies and frills away
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Mead essentially tries to recast the study of "The Rise of the West" as "The Rise of the Anglo-American maritime system." I think he's very persuasive in separating Britain and America from the rest of the "West." Although he doesn't mention it, I suspect that Mead was influenced a bit by Said's "Orientalism" model; Mead explicitly draws a distinction between the US and Britain and the rest of Europe, rather than grouping all "countries with white-majority populations" together. I find myself co ...more
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking and expansive in vision, Mead's book seeks to encapsulate the last three hundred years of history in a thesis that an Anglo-American model of dynamic open societies at home and a deep engagement abroad has been the source of British and then American hegemony. The latter portion of the book explaining why non-Anglo countries have resisted this effort of "maritime" empires was excellent and a useful corrective to America's frequent myopic approach (why don't they like us? Let us ...more
Will James
A brilliant analysis of the last 300 years of history, placing the Dutch-Anglo-American maritime order at the heart of the international system. Mead gives the reader a really perceptive look at the dynamics of international relations by taking a step back, by assessing the twin motors of English-speaking society: dynamic religion and democratic capitalism. Whilst some chapters can get bogged down in arcane historical discussion - especially those on religion - 'God and God' is nevertheless a 'm ...more
Out of respect for the task that the author took on (how the US and Great Britain became formidable through religion and capitalism), I gave this book 3 stars.

The book begins well enough but when Mead begins to interject his own mystic views, even suggesting that President Carter's foreign policy should be a benchmark to cure current problems (citing Reinhold Niebuhr), I was lost.

I suspect students of international policy would find this much more engaging than the average reader interested in
Dec 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because I enjoyed the author's Carnegie Council talk so much. (Available free on iTunes.) The talk was much better, really. I probably would have enjoyed the book more, but the triumphant chapter on the dynamism and creativity of the Anglosphere's financial system was a bad fit for October, 2008, when I read it.
Scriptor Ignotus
A brilliant treatment of Anglo-American civilization, filled with fascinating insights and an impressive synthesis of political, historical, economic, religious and intellectual phenomena. A long-overdue exploration of the most important developments of the last three centuries, brilliantly executed.
May 16, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I read this book for my meetup group - the new york history book club. It was a good choice for a book club in the sense of having a clear argument that can be argued. Unfortunately for me, I disagreed with the argument...
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A little easier to read than "Special Providence" and quite interesting. You can take our current world order back to the Dutch, then the Brits, now us. Mead is an excellent writer and first-rate thinker.
Jeff Learned
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 2016
3.5 stars. A massive and impressive work of history. I enjoyed it, but I am exhausted from reading it. I'll probably read a comic book next.
Mike F
May 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An examination of the success of the US and GB.
Steven Hoffer
Mar 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating History
Dec 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dropped
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far, very interesting, even though rather simplistic. Certainly food for thought.
Sarah Cash
Fascinating account of the ascent of Britain in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
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American academic. He is the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and previously taught American foreign policy at Yale University. He is also the Editor-at-Large of The American Interest magazine and a Distinguished Scholar at the Hudson Institute.
From 1997 to 2010, Mr. Mead was a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, serving as the Henry A. Kissing
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“The United States is both a conservative power, defending the international status quo against those who would change it through violence, and a revolutionary power seeking to replace” 2 likes
“We can choose not to think about our power and its meaning for ourselves or for others, but we cannot make that power disappear and we cannot prevent decisions taken in the United States from rippling out beyond our borders and shaping the world that others live in and the choices that they make. Nor can we prevent the way that others see and react to our power from shaping the world we live in and affecting the safety and security of Americans at home.” 0 likes
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