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1. Conspiracy of Fools : A True Story
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2. The Rise of the Creative Class:
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3. Greenspan's Fraud : How Two Decades
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4. Irresistible Empire: America's
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5. And The Money Kept Rolling In
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6. Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics,
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7. Empire of Wealth, An : The Epic
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8. Beating the Business Cycle
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9. The Worldly Philosophers : The
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10. Economics: The Original 1948 Edition
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11. Globalizing Capital
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12. A Concise Economic History of
13. The World That Trade Created :
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14. The Birth of Plenty : How the
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15. Smartest Guys in the Room: The
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16. Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A
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17. Race, Gender, and Work: A Multicultural
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18. The Great Crash 1929
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19. Every Man a Speculator : A History
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20. Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral

1. Conspiracy of Fools : A True Story
by Kurt Eichenwald
list price: $26.00
our price: $17.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767911784
Catlog: Book (2005-03-14)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 142
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Download Description

In 2000, when The Informant was published, few would’ve imagined that a story about price fixing at Archer Daniels Midland could be as un–put–downable as the best crime fiction. Yet critics—and consumers—agreed: The New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald had taken the stuff of dry business reporting and turned it into an unparalleled page–turner. With Conspiracy of Fools, Eichenwald has done it again.

Say the name “Enron” and most people believe they’ve heard all about the story that imperiled a presidency, destroyed a marketplace, and changed Washington and Wall Street forever. But in the hands of Kurt Eichenwald, the players we think we know and the business practices we think have been exposed are transformed into entirely new—and entirely gripping—material. The cast includes but is not limited to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul O’Neill, Harvey Pitt, Colin Powell, Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Alan Greenspan, Ken Lay, Andy Fastow, Jeff Skilling, Bill Clinton, Rupert Murdoch, and Michael Eisner. Providing a you–are–there glimpse behind closed doors in the executive suites of the Enron Corporation, the Texas governor’s mansion, the Justice Department, and even the Oval Office, Conspiracy of Fools is an all–true financial and political thriller of cinematic proportions.

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Reviews (53)

2-0 out of 5 stars strange brew
This is the book counterpart of a video reconstruction.As best I can tell from the extensive endnotes, the author did a phenomenal research job, and then (from my point of view) turned his work into fiction.Instead of presenting us with the facts (fascinating in themselves) the author presents everything "through the eyes" of the participants, pretenting to be in their thoughts, and using quotation marks with the abandon of a novelist.We all know that this is just plain made up, but by using this form of presentation, the author blurs the distinction between fact and fiction.He DOESN'T know what these people were thinking, and making it up implies that he does; requiring me to search the footnotes at the end of each sentence -- what is true and what is made up? For example, on the first page we follow Ken Lay's thoughts as he is driven to work -- the footnote shows us the source for what kind of car it was -- but of course no reference for Lay's thoughts (and even if Lay had said what he was thinking, we have know knowledge that he told the truth).Accordingly, although the book is entertaining, I demote it to a "2" for horrendously bad journalistic practice.

4-0 out of 5 stars The End of an Empire
I'm certain that all of us like to read a good book. One filled with intrigue, deceit, back-stabbing, illegal acts, social issues, fear, egos, greed, scandals,etc.

All the ingredients of an interesting novel. Only it's not. It is the true story ofENRON's humble pipeline beginnings to its bankruptcy and the saga of a hidden but eventually disclosed paper trail.

The book---"Conspiracy of Fools" by Kurt Eichenwald.

Notwithstanding the complicated financial transactions involved, it is written in a fast moving manner by a winning New York Times writer

5-0 out of 5 stars If you get one book this summer, this is it!
Everyone knows the Enron scandal.The directors of the corporation have been depicted as nothing less than caricatures of corporate greed and the company itself a cliche of managers run amok.

This book ends all that.It brings dimension and personality to everyone involved and does justice to the events that transpire in a very evenhanded way.The "fly on the wall" narrative and the incredulous attitude of the author constantly ask the question we all wanted to ask right from the start: "What were they thinking?"Even moreso, a corollary becomes "Why did everyone else just let it happen?"Hard to believe, but the problems of Enron could have been predicted back in the early 90s.

This is a top-notch book and worth every penny.Its not particularly difficult to comprehend (the dialogue and complex schemes are broken down for laymen to understand), and believe it or not, its a quick read. Once it absorbs you, you just won't put it down.

4-0 out of 5 stars Reads like a thriller
I read this book in three days.I have a two year old to chase around, so that tells you just how much time I devoted to finishing it.COF reads like a thriller.I kept waiting for the bad guys to get caught and became more and more incredulous that it took so long.

COF does an excellent job of showing what a dangerous combination greed, hubris and ignorance is and how prevelant it is in corporate America.Throw in a dash of politics and you have a national scandal.

Eichenwald does a good job of showing us all the nuances of what happened at the executive level of Enron, but I was disapointed that we never got to see any of it from the perspective of the thousands of employees that woke up one morning without jobs or retirement funds.We also never see the impact of Enron's fall on the varous companies and local governments that invested so heavily in them.

My last "complaint" is a silly one.There were no pictures of the principals featured in the book, which is pretty standard for non-fiction stories.I wanted to know what Lay, Skilling and the rest looked like so I could put faces with names.

Overall, well worth the read if you want some suspense and/or an insight into just what went wrong at Enron.

5-0 out of 5 stars The BEST book I have read in years
I never thought I would like to read an Enron book, but my father really pushed this on me. I LOVED it. This is the best book I have read in years, certainly since A Civil Action. It is thrilling, unbelievable, captivating. I am up late writing this because the book kept me up until 3 and now I am having trouble not thinking about it. Unlike other books of this type, the research is incredible. Anyone who reads it has to thumb through the footnotes, and see all of the documents and other information that Eichenwald pulled together. A fabulous reporter and a spectacular writer all add up to a great book. ... Read more

2. The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life
by Richard Florida
list price: $15.95
our price: $11.16
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Asin: 0465024777
Catlog: Book (2004-01-01)
Publisher: Basic Books
Sales Rank: 3185
Average Customer Review: 3.64 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The national bestseller that defines a new economic class and shows how it is key to the future of our cities.

The Washington Monthly 2002 Annual Political Book Award Winner

The Rise of the Creative Class gives us a provocative new way to think about why we live as we do today-and where we might be headed. Weaving storytelling with masses of new and updated research, Richard Florida traces the fundamental theme that runs through a host of seemingly unrelated changes in American society: the growing role of creativity in our economy.

Just as William Whyte's 1956 classic The Organization Man showed how the organizational ethos of that age permeated every aspect of life, Florida describes a society in which the creative ethos is increasingly dominant. Millions of us are beginning to work and live much as creative types like artists and scientists always have-with the result that our values and tastes, our personal relationships, our choices of where to live, and even our sense and use of time are changing. Leading the shift are the nearly 38 million Americans in many diverse fields who create for a living--the Creative Class.

The Rise of the Creative Class chronicles the ongoing sea of change in people's choices and attitudes, and shows not only what's happening but also how it stems from a fundamental economic change. The Creative Class now comprises more than thirty percent of the entire workforce. Their choices have already had a huge economic impact. In the future they will determine how the workplace is organized, what companies will prosper or go bankrupt, and even which cities will thrive or wither. ... Read more

Reviews (36)

4-0 out of 5 stars Creative Class
Richard Florida's book, 'The Rise of the Creative Class', provides readers with some interesting ideas about economic and social growth. Throughout the book, Florida relates economic growth to creativity and diversity, without one, you may not have the other. In addition, he identifies 3 Ts as necessary for growth: technology, talent and tolerance. While planning for the future, cities no only have to look at economic development, but must look at the climate the city provides for the arts. Recently moving from South Dakota, one of the areas Florida describes as have high social capital but lacking economic growth, Florida's ideas about fostering an environment in which creativity thrives ring true. Economic development does not mean acquiring a chain restaurant, but it should include developing an authentic local environment that allows creativity to flourish.

Many criticize Florida's use of the Bohemian Index and Gay Index (however well it correlates to economic growth), citing the information does not apply to the majority of middle class Americans. The paperback edition of Florida's book contains a preface where the author points out that the creative environment is not limited to a city itself, but a region that allows people to live in the environment that suits them the best, i.e. Silicon Valley and San Francisco together provide an environment to growth. I do, however, find Florida's diversity ranking a bit lacking. Honolulu, one of the most diverse areas I have lived in, does not seem very diverse, because Asians and Pacific Islanders were considered as one racial/ethnic group.

5-0 out of 5 stars Richard Florida for President
Richard Florida sees clearly what our present leadership does not- our country is in transition and the old rules no longer apply . He systematically shows through his research that cities that are thriving economically, intellectually and culturally are developing around a base of diversity, flexibility and tolerance. Talented people are moving to places that appeal to them and will allow them to reach their potential. He shows the only non-renewable resource is time and the only renewable resource the human intellect. Type his name into Google and you will find pages of growing city planning commissions either listening to him speak or their members quoting his book.
Run, Richard, run!

4-0 out of 5 stars Insightful!
The good news is, Richard Florida's book recognizes the growing economic and sociological impact of creativity. The bad news is that in just two years, it has lost some of its gloss. The collapse of the bull market, the popping of the bubble, the 9/11 trauma, each took some shine off of the creative economy, with its casual dress days, flexible schedules and free rides. But even though this appraisal occasionally sounds quaint, we believe that the book's faith in the transforming economic and social power of creativity, its broad view, and its excellent references and quotations make it worth recommending.

2-0 out of 5 stars a relic of the bubble economy
This book was conceived during the 1990s when the high-tech bubble economy caused a labor shortage which made it possible for recent college grads with the right "hot" skills to "write their own tickets". Professor Florida wondered why Pittsburgh, his home town, was having trouble attracting high-tech talent, and graduates from local schools were choosing to move away. He found that these young, single, upper-income, well-educated people were making job choices based on geography. They wanted to live somewhere "fun" for young people. That is with amenities such as a vibrant night life, opportunities for outdoor recreation such as biking, rock climbing, etc. Thus they chose places like Austin TX with its music scene over Pittsburgh with its symphony.

This is interesting enough, and Florida makes the connection to earlier work (especially that of Jane Jacobs) on what makes a city an "authentic" and interesting place to live.

It is well known that as time goes on, so-called "knowledge workers" are becoming a larger and larger part of the economy. However Florida, perhaps driven to some "irrational exuberance" by the bubble economy we were living in when he was writing this, makes some pretty outlandish claims for the importance and power of this class of workers (which he calls "the creative class"). As of mid-2004, this all seems a quaint relic of 1990s "new economy" optimism.

He also fails to address two things which have had a huge impact on the labor market in recent years:

He mentions but does not address at any length the collapse of the high-tech bubble, and what impact this change will have on the phenomena he describes. It would seem that most of what he describes is (at least for now) no longer true, as high-tech workers can no longer pick and choose but are now in the position of being glad to find any job at all.

He does not mention at all the phenomenon of overseas outsourcing. This may not have been a hot topic when the book was written but by the time (Fall '03) he wrote the preface to the paperback edition it was so, and he does not even mention it, despite the fact that it is at the very least having a large psychological effect on the high-tech job market.

4-0 out of 5 stars Leaves us hanging
This book presents an interesting concept but the author doesn't tell us what to do with this information. He suggests that the "creative class" must become conscious of their identity as a class and begin to act in concert, but he doesn't outline a method for doing this. One would think that he would want to provide a platform for the unification and interaction of a class which he has identified.

The author suggests that municipalities would be wise to structure their geography to attract creative class individuals. Another approach, which he does not consider, would be a strategy to develop more creative class individuals from the resident population. Unlike other natural resources, which are finite, creative class capital can be generated by educational opportunities and personal development.

An interesting thought occurred to me while reading this book: Dr. Florida describes creative class individuals as uninterested in group conformity. Meanwhile, the major political parties become increasingly polarized and intolerant of dissent within the ranks, sidelining independent-thinking "moderates." Thus public policy is being developed by parties who have driven the creative class out from their midst. This, more than anything, may be the most critical issue for the creative class to confront. ... Read more

3. Greenspan's Fraud : How Two Decades of His Policies Have Undermined the Global Economy
by Ravi Batra
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
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Asin: 1403968594
Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Sales Rank: 6863
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

For two decades Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has held reign over economic policy, outlasting three presidents. His long tenure has had a profound effect on global economics and on individuals. In this hard-hitting exposé, international bestselling author Ravi Batra takes sharp aim at Greenspan's policies since he came into power. Greenomics, Batra argues, has extracted trillions of dollars from the American middle class and sharply benefited the rich, while protecting big business. Batra proves that Greenomics has also been responsible for periods of irrational exuberance, and exposes the wild inconsistencies in his social security plans. Greenspan's Fraud explores Greenspan's influences and motivations and the discrepancies between his words and actions, while revealing how his policies have national and global impact.
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Reviews (10)

3-0 out of 5 stars It's not Greenspan's fraud
It's not Greenspan's fraud. That would be giving Mr. Greenspan too much credit. The Federal Reserve is a fraud that was formed long before Greenspan was made its chairman. Greenspan has done a reasonable job of keeping the false prosperity intact, but it won't last. Like all Fed chairman before him he just counterfeited a bunch of money. Take a look at our incomes vs the cost of living and it becomes obvious we haven't made any progress at all. A Great Depression is the only way to resolve the economic distortions the Fed has enabled.

4-0 out of 5 stars Looking for Mr. GREENSCAM!
     Despite its title, this is less a book about the "Maestro" Alan Greenspan (the current Chairman of the Federal Reserve System) than a review of the recent travails of the U.S. economy and the imbalances it has spawned at home and abroad by its plutocratic excesses. That Mr. G. is a privileged member of that plutocracy of wealth none would deny; he has after all been hailed as Chief Gnome of the Global Economy ever since the Stock Market Crash of 1987; but that he is also the chief architect of its manifold shenanigans and manifest frauds is a stretch, and a claim which Mr Batra can't make stick. Which is unfortunate because the U.S./global economy desperately needs a scapegoat right now!

Probably ALL of us know something about Mr Greenspan. He has been in the public eye as part of the politico-economic elite ever since President Ford appointed him Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors in 1974. He became Chairman of the Fed in 1987, in the wake of the great Paul Volcker, and quickly established himself as Savior of Global Financial Markets after his prompt and brilliantly successful response to theCrash of `87. (How ironic that his Fed career should also ends with a crash: the Millennial Meltdown of 2000-2002). To the rest of us, Greenspan is probably best known for what is sometimes called "Fed-speak," a contorted, convoluted, pretzel-logic kind of economese that passes all understanding. (It might more reasonably be called "GreenSPAM"!) These tidbits aside, however, few of us know much about Mr. G. or the Federal Reserve. And because Batra does not provide us with a coherent chronological account of his quarry's background and career, we are at a loss to know whetherthe barrage of accusations that he fires off in his first chapter (a long and disorganised anti-Greenspan screed) has any merit. This is a failing which dogs Batra's footsteps throughout the book.

Although his case against Greenspan (in Chapters 1 and 4) is not as rigorous as we might like, Batra's larger argument about the causes of the U.S. economic malaise since the early Seventies is excellent. Specifically, what he provides is a much needed neo-Keynesian "demand-side" response to the manifest idiocies of "supply-side" conservatism. In the late Seventies and early Eighties, "Supply-siders" (so called) claimed that high taxes on the wealthy were bad for savings, and hence, investment, and hence growth. Batra shows (Ch 7) that the era of highest taxation on the wealthy, the Fifties and Sixties, was also the era of highest growth! Go figure! Supply-siders also claimed that raising the minimum wage would cause higher unemployment. "Not so," says Batra, who skewers that self-serving myth in Chapter 8. But, you may say, how could the Supply-Siders have been so WRONG if they had the RIGHT recipe for balancing the budget? The answer, as Batra shows, was that the budget was NEVER balanced; it was merely kept under control. How? By increasing payroll taxes on working Americans, under the sleazy guise of "fixing Social Security". Throughout the Eighties and Nineties, despite their alleged ideological differences, both Democrats AND Republicans lined up to vote for reduced taxes on wealth and increased taxes on work. By claiming to "save" Social Security they increased worker deductions, and then used the additional Social Security funds to "balance" the general budget! And, as Batra's incendiary second chapter on the "Social Securiity Fraud" convincingly demonstrates, they did so by lying through their teeth to the American public. Because Greenspan was at the center of that disgraceful stab in the back, Batra holds him accountable for the entire scam. GreenSCAM! But, if you read Chapter Two, which on its own will more than repay your invrstment in this book, you'll realize that while the "Maestro" was the ringmaster, there was no shortage of cheerleaders and helpmates. And Democrats were no less spineless than their GOP counterparts.

To conclude: this book is not a good guide to Greenspan, the man or the mythical figure who has dominated the economic landscape for the past twenty years. But it is an EXCELLENT guide to the manifest ways in which the "new economy" has benefitted the rich and shafted the rest of us.

5-0 out of 5 stars It's about time !
True, Alan Greenspan may have been lucky in preventing inflation even though that is truly questionable given his support of ENRON-omics. However, day after day you'll hear Greenspan flip and flop on the status of the economy with no coherent understanding. Moreover, he'll even endorse the worst of free trade just because it will make Wall Street happy at the expense of Main Street. This is where Batra's book steps in. You see, Greenspan has no genuine interest in doing what is truly best and correct for the nation as fed chair. His only goal is to serve as a special interest puppet. After all, if the free markets were true replacements for the existing safety nets such as social security, then why is it that Alan Greenspan keeps on flipping and flopping on his stands? Is it because of his wife Andrea Mitchell who gets to show up on the corporate media and the extra money she'll get as Bush's speechwriter after Bush finishes bilking us taxpayers? Not only is that so but Greenspan knows that without economic safety nets, baby boomers will be forced to live off of worthless stocks that resulted from one too many stock market crashes. Batra isn't writing this book to bilk rich people as some conservative reviewers might try to mislead you into believing. His point is that for having played a major role in the 20 years of destructive globalism, Greenspan is actually too good to be true and that's what Wall Street, the conservatives and libertarians, and the media that lives off Greenspan's acting mode are afraid you will find out about.

Pick a day of the week a throw a dart. That seems to be what decides whether Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan will tell us we are headed for disaster or doing fabulously on any given day. It has reached the point where it is not just fence straddling, but truly troublesome psychosis. And it has been going on for a while now. Look at this from last year. First, from May 6, 2004 comments to a banking conference: "Our fiscal prospects are, in my judgment, a significant obstacle to long-term stability because the budget deficit is not readily subject to correction by market forces that stabilize other imbalances." Then a few months later to the House Budget Committee: "The most recent data suggest that, on the whole, the expansion has regained some traction." One day he is pointing out that there is an "inverted yield curve," a little thing that precedes every recession and never appears except when there is a recession about to occur, and the next he is saying the economy is wonderful - even in the face of all obvious evidence to the contrary, such as seen in this Washington Post quote typical of the situation: "Greenspan was upbeat about the economy in remarks to the House Budget Committee, and did not suggest there would be any major changes in the Fed's monetary policy, which was a welcome relief to rate-wary investors. But the short-term cheer over his comments was not enough to allay the market's deeper concerns." The problem, though, is not Greenspan himself but something we see play out on a much, much larger scale, and which has the entire nation confused about the current state of the economy, which is actually very simple to explain. You see, it is the job of the entire investment firm profession to get you to buy stocks and bonds. And economists serve these people, and tend to be Republicans. The reality is that Greenspan and others understand the second part of the above Washington Post quote, that there are permanent "deeper concerns" due to the policies implemented by President Bush and the Bush/Limbaugh Republicans. The deficit is real, the declining dollar is real, that the lack of pensions are real, that record number of personal bankruptcies are occurring each year.. So why does the reporting and commenting go back and forth so much? Because they have to say something and to try and say something positive. They sit and wait on this and that report and then are supposed to make some comment based on these snapshots. If they were simply to continue to focus on the big picture, they would have nothing new or interesting - or very positive - to say. How many times can you write, "You can't keep running up the nation's credit cards like this?" How many times can you point out that the tax cuts were not targeted in any way toward job creation - they simply handed money to wealthy people without any incentives linked to increased hiring or any other mechanism of job creation. Lots of money was handed directly to companies, and so their profits increased. That would be nice except for one catch: it was money we didn't have to give. The cheerful reporting of the sudden increase of cash among companies is the eqivalent of going out and buying a new truck and 42-inch TV on your credit card and then coming home and saying, "See how well we are doing, honey, we have all sorts of nice new stuff." The reality in that case would be that, no, things around the household haven't improved, just someone in the household made a stupid decision to run up all sorts of debt that has to be paid down at some point. We hear talk now about foreign investors getting leery of floating our endless bonds. And we hear about the inverted yield curve - the surest sign of a coming recession, when short-term interest rates are, unlike normal, higher than long-term interest rates. You have to take this all a step further, though, because this is just the government aspect of things. Though the press likes to report useless, skewed month to month "unemployment" numbers, the reality is that these numbers only include people still receiving unemployment compensation benefits. Those who have exhausted all of their benefits and are still unable to find work are called, "long-term unemployed." The number of people in this group tells the real story of unemployment, of people permanently put in the worst of financial situations. And as reality has it, the last two years has seen record numbers of long-term unemployed. On top of that, the trend that started during the Clinton years of record personal bankruptcies continues. And the trade deficit continues to set new records. So on the one hand you have a government completely broke, setting deficit borrowing records every year. And on the other, you have the American people completely overspent, credit cards run to the max and many stuck long-term without any employment. And then you have a Baby Boomer group that will be retiring many without pensions, only with dot-com-crash-battered 401K's to depend on. Lady's and gentlemen, the math doesn't add up. The only thing the Bush/Limbaughians have to try and keep things from seeming the disaster they are is their complete domination of the media - of course, as we've explained, this is why they've set up 24 hour-a-day propaganda on all media, to convince the people that things that are horrible for them are actually just fine. You can look at this report or that number, but the "conundrum" Alan Greenspan keeps coming back to is simple: How can he continue to try to say anything positive when the obvious, big-picture context of the economy is horrible and only being exacerbated by current policies? And so you see poor Alan looking like a deranged monkey on acid, saying we have a recovery, things look good, and then, just a few days later, we have a real problem, the deficits and inverted yield curve cannot be ignored.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ignore the kneejerk reviews - this book tells the truth
So what did Greenspan do for this country that you have to be so proud about? Well, he did push for unfair "free" trade and is continuing to do so with offshoring and the upcoming CAFTA and he overtaxed America on Social Security in an attempt to help the Republicans destroy Social Security and is now pushing for privatization. It's true the Greenspan goes only where the wind blows, be it Clinton in office in the 1990s or now Bush. Maybe Wall Street paid some negative reviewers money to try to stop the dirty secret truth of Alan Greenspan from marching on but like a real patriot always knows "THE TRUTH IS MARCHING ON !" ... Read more

4. Irresistible Empire: America's Advance Through Twentieth-Century Europe
by Victoria de Grazia
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
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Asin: 0674016726
Catlog: Book (2005-04-22)
Publisher: Belknap Press
Sales Rank: 42823
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The most significant conquest of the twentieth century may well have been the triumph of American consumer society over Europe's bourgeois civilization. It is this little-understood but world-shaking campaign that unfolds in Irresistible Empire, Victoria de Grazia's brilliant account of how the American standard of living defeated the European way of life and achieved the global cultural hegemony that is both its great strength and its key weakness today.

De Grazia describes how, as America's market empire advanced with confidence through Europe, spreading consumer-oriented capitalism, all alternative strategies fell before it--first the bourgeois lifestyle, then the Third Reich's command consumption, and finally the grand experiment of Soviet-style socialist planning. Tracing the peculiar alliance that arrayed New World salesmanship, statecraft, and standardized goods against the Old World's values of status, craft, and good taste, Victoria de Grazia follows the United States' market-driven imperialism through a vivid series of cross-Atlantic incursions by the great inventions of American consumer society. We see Rotarians from Duluth in the company of the high bourgeoisie of Dresden; working-class spectators in ramshackle French theaters conversing with Garbo and Bogart; Stetson-hatted entrepreneurs from Kansas in the midst of fussy Milanese shoppers; and, against the backdrop of Rome's Spanish Steps and Paris's Opera Comique, Fast Food in a showdown with advocates for Slow Food. Demonstrating the intricacies of America's advance, de Grazia offers an intimate and historical dimension to debates over America's exercise of soft power and the process known as Americanization. She raises provocative questions about the quality of the good life, democracy, and peace that issue from the vaunted victory of mass consumer culture.

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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars A terrific book on the origins of global consumerism
De Grazia shows that the triumph of American-style consumption in Europe -- from supermarkets to Hollywood movies -- wasn't automatic; there were alternatives, there was resistance, there was a history.The book is full of fascinating surprises: Woodrow Wilson's speech to the first World's Salesmanship Congress in 1916; the Duluth-Dresden connection; Hitler promising to protect Europe from American economic domination. This may be the best book we have on the history of consumption in the 20th century.

5-0 out of 5 stars Are You Trying to Seduce Me?

A well-written, well-documented, colorful, and entertaining account how American consumer culture came to dominate Europe by the force of seduction. In asking how it is that Europeans came to be so enamored with the American way, De Grazia shows the integral part that the shaping of desire plays in domination. ... Read more

5. And The Money Kept Rolling In
by Paul Blustein
list price: $27.50
our price: $18.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1586482459
Catlog: Book (2005-02-01)
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Sales Rank: 905635
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Book Description

The dramatic, definitive account of the most spectacular economic meltdown of modern times exposes the dangerous flaws of our global financial system.

In the 1990s, few countries were more lionized than Argentina for its efforts to join the club of wealthy nations. Argentina's policies drew enthusiastic applause from the IMF, the World Bank and Wall Street. But the club has a disturbing propensity to turn its back on arrivistes and cast them out. That was what happened in 2001, when Argentina suffered one of the most spectacular crashes in modern history. With it came appalling social and political chaos, a collapse of the peso, and a wrenching downturn that threw millions into poverty and left nearly one quarter of the workforce unemployed.

Paul Blustein, whose book about the IMF, The Chastening, was called "gripping, often frightening" by The Economist and lauded by the Wall Street Journal as "a superbly reported and skillfully woven story," now gets right inside Argentina's rise and fall in a dramatic account based on hundreds of interviews with top policymakers and financial market players as well as reams of internal documents. He shows how the IMF turned a blind eye to the vulnerabilities of its star pupil, and exposes the conduct of global financial market players in Argentina as redolent of the scandals-like those at Enron, WorldCom and Global Crossing- that rocked Wall Street in recent years. By going behind the scenes of Argentina's debacle, Blustein shows with unmistakable clarity how sadly elusive the path of hope and progress remains to the great bulk of humanity still mired in poverty and underdevelopment. ... Read more

6. Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics, and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence (Enterprise)
by Tim Parks
list price: $22.95
our price: $15.61
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Asin: 0393058271
Catlog: Book (2005-04-11)
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Sales Rank: 5250
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The remarkable story of the Renaissance's preeminent financiers.

Their name is a byword for immense wealth and power, but before their renown as art patrons and noblemen the Medicis built their fortune on banking—specifically, on lending money at interest. Banking in the fifteenth century, even at the height of the Renaissance, meant running afoul of the Catholic Church's prohibition against usury. It required more than merely financial skills to make a profit, and the legendary Medicis—most famously Cosimo and Lorenzo ("the Magnificent")—were masterly in wielding the political, diplomatic, military, and even metaphysical tools that were needed to maintain their family's position.

In this brisk and witty narrative, Tim Parks uncovers the intrigues, dodges, and moral qualities that gave the Medicis their edge. Vividly evoking the richness of the Florentine Renaissance and the Medicis' glittering circle, replete with artists, popes, and kings, Medici Money is a brilliant look into the origins of modern banking and its troubled relationship with art and religion. 14 illustrations. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Engaging Read
I've only read two of Tim Parks books: "Italian Neighbors" and "Italian Education". I loved both of them. I like his nonchalant style which takes the reader right to the point.
"Medici Money" was a good surprise. I had never read anything about the most famous family in Florence, so this book was a good introduction to the fortunes and misfortunes of the power and money hungry Medicis. Because I don't have a background in economics, some parts were a little more difficult to grasp for me, but otherwise it was a witty account of the Medici's bank rise and fall. I only wished it had more on the metaphysics aspect of Renaissance life and how it related to banking. I also think the book would benefit if it had more illustrations and a better genealogy table (some dates were different from the text). Overall it was a pleasant and informative read. I specially liked his suggestions in the bibliography. In sum, I enjoyed the book very much and if you're interested in learning a bit more about Renaissance and the Medici, it's a good start. ... Read more

7. Empire of Wealth, An : The Epic History of American Economic Power
by John Steele Gordon
list price: $26.95
our price: $16.17
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Asin: 0060093625
Catlog: Book (2004-10-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Sales Rank: 156
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Book Description

Throughout time, from ancient Rome to modern Britain, the great empires built and maintained their dominion through force of arms and political power over alien peoples. In this illuminating work of history, John Steele Gordon tells the extraordinary story of how the United States, a global power without precedent, became the first country to dominate the world through the creation of wealth.

The American economy is by far the world's largest, but it is also the most dynamic and innovative. The nation used its English political inheritance, as well as its diverse, ambitious population and seemingly bottomless imagination, to create an unrivaled economy capable of developing more wealth for more and more people as it grows.

But America has also been extremely lucky. Far from a guaranteed success, our resilient economy continually suffered through adversity and catastrophes. It survived a profound recession after the Revolution, an unwise decision by Andrew Jackson that left the country without a central bank for nearly eighty years, and the disastrous Great Depression of the 1930s, which threatened to destroy the Republic itself. Having weathered those trials, the economy became vital enough to Americanize the world in recent decades. Virtually every major development in technology in the twentieth century originated in the United States, and as the products of those technologies traveled around the globe, the result was a subtle, peaceful, and pervasive spread of American culture and perspective.

An Empire of Wealth is a stirring epic that mirrors the remarkable trajectory of America's history. Featuring a cast of entrepreneurial icons that includes John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and Bill Gates, this is a story full of euphoria and disaster, daring and timidity, great men and utter fools. From the Revolution to the Great Depression to the Internet era and the turn of the millennium, John Steele Gordon captures as never before the true source of our nation's global influence.

... Read more

8. Beating the Business Cycle
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385509537
Catlog: Book (2004-05-18)
Publisher: Currency
Sales Rank: 25395
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
Having just finished Lakshman Achuthan and Anirvan Banerji's "Beating the Business Cycle" I have come away informed on what business cycles are and why they are important from both a business and personal perspective. The style of the the book was easy to read and entertaining while it demystified a subject that has been left to the experts for far too long. I feel much more secure to make any future finanicial decisions. The charts and graphs were really helpful. I appreciated the depth of "Beating the Business Cycle" and its accessibility. It is a fine art to treat simple ideas deeply and deep ideas simply which is what this book has done.

5-0 out of 5 stars Can't beat "beating the Business Cycle"
Although I have not finished the book, I am finding it informatve, entertaining and an invaluable tool for understanding the ebb and flow of the economy. Lakhman Achutan and Anirvan Banerji have writen a book that enables those of us without an MBA to gain insight with practical, usable tools. Hearing some of the advice of the so called "financial experts", and seeing how off base they were, it seems as if they could benefit from reading the book as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars It¿s About Time!
I've heard of these guys on and off over the years, and after reading their book I finally feel that I have a framework for approaching the dismal science of economics that seems so inconsistent when I listen to the experts of TV or newspapers. I commend the ECRI researchers for staying the course over decades and not selling out to mainstream economics or Wall Street. It is very important to have a "reality check" like the Weekly Leading Index, and I was pleasantly surprised by the free subscription to their weekly report that comes with the book. Even better - the latest report shows that the Leading Home Price Index is holding up!

5-0 out of 5 stars an engaging read about economic ups and downs
I'm in business, but I didn't know a great deal about cycles of growth and contraction in the economy. This short book gave me a readable overview by two economists who caught the end of the 90's boom when most thought it would go on forever.

I'd recommend it to anyone who's hoping to see the next bend in the road for our economy.

2-0 out of 5 stars Smaller Wheels, Still Turning....
It is the nature of free market economies to progress rhythmically through periods of expansion and contraction. It is one of a few interesting observations made by the authors of BEATING THE BUSINESS CYCLE that the intensity of these cycles in the U.S. has moderated over time. Booms and busts have become less common. Recessions rather than depressions, thankfully, are more likely to occur. We have a number of "automatic stabilizers" at work to absorb the shock of general and pervasive slowdowns in the economy. Those stabilizers operate through the mechanics of monetary and fiscal policy. The Federal Reserve controls the flow of money through the economy with the tourniquet of interest rates. The "misguided certainty" that leads to excessive optimism or irrational pessimism by corporations, businesses, and individuals can be tempered by prudent monetary action. At the same time social security, tax policy, unemployment insurance, and bank deposit insurance are some of the ways individuals have been protected from the potentially devastating effects of a negative turn in the economy. So there is reason to believe that the cycles have become less pronounced.

Periodically an excessive optimism leads to the illusion that the business cycle has been eliminated, that the economy can grow steadily without retrenchment, without the need to eliminate its own inefficiencies. Mark Twain knew the "gilded age", the 1920's saw a "new era" at a "plateau of prosperity", and the 1990's marveled at a "new economy" with information systems and supply management software that could control excesses (e.g. inventory) before they stalled the economy. Ultimately the business cycle is produced by an imbalance of supply and demand. But it is human psychology extrapolating from the successes or failures of recent past experience that fails to see the imbalances building in the economy before a pivotal shift undermines a previously successful investment or business strategy. Renewed caution follows optimism, risk aversion follows speculation, and the cycle repeats.

Readers will not find completely satisfying answers to "beating" (viz. profiting from) the business cycle in this short study, because its primary purpose is to introduce readers to the subscription advisory services of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI). This explains the sometimes self-congratulatory tone of having accurately predicted recent shifts in economic activity both here and abroad. As a stand alone work of merit on the topic the authors might consider a brief glossary of key terms and concepts for a future edition. ... Read more

9. The Worldly Philosophers : The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers
by Robert L. Heilbroner
list price: $16.00
our price: $11.20
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Asin: 068486214X
Catlog: Book (1999-08-10)
Publisher: Touchstone
Sales Rank: 4933
Average Customer Review: 3.96 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Worldly Philosophers is a bestselling classic that not only enables us to see more deeply into our history but helps us better understand our own times. In this seventh edition, Robert L. Heilbroner provides a new theme that connects thinkers as diverse as Adam Smith and Karl Marx. The theme is the common focus of their highly varied ideas -- namely, the search to understand how a capitalist society works. It is a focus never more needed than in this age of confusing economic headlines.

In a bold new concluding chapter entitled "The End of the Worldly Philosophy?" Heilbroner reminds us that the word "end" refers to both the purpose and limits of economics. This chapter conveys a concern that today's increasingly "scientific" economics may overlook fundamental social and political issues that are central to economics. Thus, unlike its predecessors, this new edition provides not just an indispensable illumination of our past but a call to action for our future. ... Read more

Reviews (45)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Classic
This lucid and lively book tells the history of economic thought through the lives and times of great economists such as Smith, Marx, and Keynes. The writing will grab most readers, making the book an ideal introduction to economics for intelligent high schoolers or college students who might be put off by the dryness of the subject. There's no wonder that it's been in print for decades and has gone through numerous editions.

That said, the reader show know that Heilbroner's history stops with Keyenes and Schumpeter, thus ignoring the the revival of market-oriented schools of thought and the collapse of communism. This will strike some readers as a huge omission, perhaps reflective of Heilbroner's advanced age or his aversion to the mathematical emphasis of contemporary economics. Heilbroner would probably argue that no truly fundamental and original contributions have been made to the discipline in the last 50 years. He may be right.

Some Amazon reviewers, apprently of conservative bent, don't understand that The Worldly Philosophers is as much a book of history and biography as it is of economics. To criticize Heilbroner for giving too much space to Marx and none to Friedman or the Austrians is to confuse historical impact and originality with correctness. Marx had a gigantic impact on social thought and world history. The Austrians were (and remain) a smallish cult, whatever their other merits.

5-0 out of 5 stars A sweeping view of the history of economics
For all its flaws, "The Worldly Philosophers" is a magnificent story of economists, their ideas, and how those ideas were contested. If you expect this treatment of economists to be dull, you will find that you are mistaken. With his romantic use of language and biographical anecdotes, Robert Heilbroner paints a picture that lures the reader into a field that is so often mystified and abused. I chose Economics as a major because of this book and it is still an enjoyable read.

Some chapters are better than others, and those on Smith, Marx, and Keynes are probably the most interesting as well as relevant to our day. His lofty words often border on exaggeration or spectacle when it comes to the discussion of people, but there are also analyses of thoughts and theories that are not at all complicated for the lay reader. That said, it is not a book on economics, but rather a story about economists. Do not expect to understand economics by reading this book. If you don't know economics, you will learn only a general feel for what economists attempt to explain and how those explanations have changed throughout the years. But even that, I think, is valuable.

The author is a socialist and it shows, but I don't feel that it is too problematic. Until the last chapter, there are no blatant endorsements of particular views. The analyses and criticisms are good, and if his praise of people like Marx or Keynes seems overboard, I feel that he is praising their boldness and inventiveness more than anything. The point is that these thinkers were amazing, and their ideas changed how we perceive the world. And as we shifted our understandings, our institutions and actions changed. There were other thinkers involved too, and they may have been unfairly dismissed by Heilbroner. But what comes through in the end is the passion for learning about the world. For that, this book is invaluable.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent, vibrant reading
I came to this book a novice in economic history. The Worldly Philosophers opened my eyes and gave in-depth detail of some of the major thinkers and key players in economics: such as Karl Marx, John Hobson, Marshall, Keynes, the Utopian socialists, Adam Smith, etc.

This is a wonderful book for an introduction to economics. I've generated many ideas and economic theories as a result of reading this book--the author constantly points out their ideas, the flaws, the strengths, the fallacies.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction
This is the latest version by a historian of economics, Heilbroner. In this book, taking the paradigm of Polanyi, so many classical economists are introduced as gworldly philosophersh like Adam Smith, Malthus, Ricardo, Owen, San Simon, Fourier, Mill, Marx, Edgeworth, Frederic Bastiat, Henry George, Hobson, Marshall, Veblen, Keyens, and Schumpeter.
The author shows us the way how we can understand some difficulties of those philosophers, explaining their social background, habitus, characters, whole perspective which the author calls gvisionh, achievements and difficulties from current issue. And because they have affected each other as a matter of fact, some letters which were inserted in this book is effective to touch their personalities. This book can be read as a Euro-American history through those philosophers.
Although there are a few inadequate expressions on anthropological facts and might be philosophy, this book must be fantastic for inviting readers to economics. However, although anthropology or sociology has same challenge, what we want to know at the end must be economy itself rather than thoughts of worldly philosophers. Ifm just a bit afraid this book might produce gstudiers who want to become economistsh rather than h studiers who want to know economyh, unless readers take it into account.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great reading experience
This book reminds me of Will Durant's marvelous The Story of Philosophy, with which it shares many positive qualities. The first similarity is that the writing is extremely lucid, explaining many complex ideas in a direct way, which only superior writing can achieve. And like Durant, Heilbroner has a contagious enthusiasm for his subject matter. He really makes the economists come alive, both because of their personalities and their thinking. Finally, like Durant's work, this book has really made me eager to read the works of the men that the author summarizes.

When I became interested in economics, this book was recommended to me as the first one I should read. I'm truly glad I did.

I highly recommend this book. -Mykal Banta ... Read more

10. Economics: The Original 1948 Edition
by Paul A. Samuelson
list price: $53.43
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0070747415
Catlog: Book (1997-12-01)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill/Irwin
Sales Rank: 580522
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Rare is the opportunity to see, much less own, an original. Economics by Paul Samuelson is the classic texbook that gave birth to modern economics, and sold millions of copies in more than 40 languages. Now, in this unique and carefully crafted reproduction edition, Samuelson's original words, text, and layout are recreated from the original classic edition. More than just a historical curiosity, however, this book's power to explain economics to both the expert and the novice shines on every page. As fascinating now as when they were first published in 1948, the wisdom and applicability of Samuelson's words remain vital in today's turbulent economic world. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

3-0 out of 5 stars Liberal economics
Mr. Samuelson is most undeniably a great economist, and a great liberal, but from the distant past. As a textbook writer I find him very poor; even irrelevant. He has a way of presenting the subject in a technical/mathmatical way that leaves the reader no better off at all at understanding and discussing the basic economic issues of the day. Besides that he was a remarkably biased teacher/textbook writer. He will perhaps go down in history as the man who said that Russia was a great example of how well a planned economy can perform (even though it really just impoverished its citizens) and that Milton Freidman's work was mistaken (even though it finally became intellectually dominant and was used by the Fed to create the current economic miracle). If you had a choice to spend two semesters plowing through Samuelson or a weekend reading "Capitalism and Freedom" or "Understanding The Difference Between Democrats and Republicans" you'd be wise to pick the later. You'd learn 10 times as much in a fraction the time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended to haters of this dreary subject.
Absolutely easy to read and understand! I never thought I could actually "enjoy" reading about the subject before I came across this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars The original edition is much better than the one I studied.
I was amazed to discover how good the original edition of Samuelson's classic economics text is. Virtually everything in it is just as relevant today as it was in 1948. Of special interest to me was chapter 10, Personal Finance and Social Security, for the light it sheds on the current debate about retirement income security. I think Samuelson ECONOMICS 1 ed. would be my textbook of choice for a course in introductory economics. ... Read more

11. Globalizing Capital
by Barry Eichengreen
list price: $24.95
our price: $24.95
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Asin: 0691002452
Catlog: Book (1998-07-13)
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Sales Rank: 325373
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The importance of the international monetary system is clearly evident in daily news stories about fluctuating currencies and in dramatic events such as the recent reversals in the Mexican economy. It has become increasingly apparent that one cannot understand the international economy without knowing how its monetary system operates. Now Barry Eichengreen presents a brief, lucid book that tells the story of the international financial system over the past 150 years. Globalizing Capital is intended not only for economists but also for a general audience of historians, political scientists, professionals in government and business, and anyone with a broad interest in international economic and political relations. Eichengreen's work demonstrates that insights into the international monetary system and effective principles for governing it can result only if it is seen a historical phenomenon extending from the gold standard period to interwar instability, then to Bretton Woods, and finally to the post-1973 period of fluctuating currencies.

Eichengreen analyzes the shift from pegged to floating exchange rates in the 1970s and ascribes that change to the growing capital mobility that has made pegged rates difficult to maintain. However, he shows that capital mobility was also high prior to World War I, yet this did not prevent the maintenance of fixed exchange rates. What was critical for the successful maintenance of fixed exchange rates during that period was the fact that governments were relatively insulated from democratic politics and thus from pressure to trade off exchange rate stability for other goals, such as the reduction of unemployment. Today pegging exchange rates would require very radical reforms of a sort that governments are understandably reluctant to embrace. The implication seems undeniable: floating rates are here to stay. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

3-0 out of 5 stars Great macro text but very G7 centric
Barry Eichengreen's book Gold Fetters is a classic on the Gold Standard and the Great Depression. The cover of this one claims that it will become a classic on the international monetary system. While it's good, it certainly isn't a classic. It's a great book, but spoilt by its lack of breadth.

Globalizing Capital is full of details and gives readers a terrific account of how mainstream exchange rates were managed (or weren't) in the period from 1870 to 1997. Each of the four main chapters is self contained (1870-1914, 1918-1944, 1944-1973, 1973-1997).

Globalizing Capital has two broad threads. Firstly, the only periods in recent history when exchange rates have been stable have occurred when there have been a) high levels of international co-operation or b) periods when governments have been able to choose between high capital mobility and extending democracy. Trying to court both the masses and international traders has often been the trigger for banking and currency crises.

The second theme is the choice between fixed and floating regimes. The world nowadays is characterised by instantaneous communications and highly mobile capital. Small countries can chose to float and large groups with deep interlinks can form monetary unions, but the rest are faced with increasingly unpleasant choices. As capital becomes more mobile, the choices faced by those left in the middle will become even more perilous.

While the theoretical line is flawless, the content isn't. Globalizing Capital is extremely G7-centred and gives little if any indication that there was a world outside the North Atlantic until Japan emerged in the 1960s. There is little mention of the history of colonial currency boards prior to Hong Kong in the early 1980s, no attempt to tackle the issues thrown up by recent debt crises in Latin America and nothing on transition countries in Eastern Europe and Asia who dispensed with central planning and multiple exchange rates in the 1990s.

5-0 out of 5 stars Clearly-written classic on the world monetery system.
This book is not for the casual reader. However, we do recommend it strongly to anyone interested in understanding the relationship between global politics and international economics. Our consulting staff uses it often when discussing pricing policies and long-range financial planning with experienced and sophisticated exporters. John R. Jagoe, Director, Export Institute.

5-0 out of 5 stars Crucial for understanding today's global financial crisis.
Globalizing Capital: A History of the International Monetary System is better described by its subtitle than its title, but even that fails to suggest just how up-to-the-minute it is. This book really provides a crucial key for unlocking the puzzles of today's global financial crisis. It tells the whole story of how the gold standard worked, how the Bretton Woods system worked -- and why and how they stopped working. If you wonder what the differences between floating and fixed exchange rates really are, this book will tell you, in all dimensions. It shows very clearly that the international financial crisis we see today is a great deal like what has happened at some times in the past, and it explains what worked, what didn't, and why in the past in dealing with similar crises. The author's entirely non-ideological -- where there are two intellectually-respectable sides to an issue, he presents both, explains why he comes down as he does, and tells you where to look for more information. The book is brief (about 200 pages), well and clearly written, and doesn't assume that you know much about economics or banking. There's a nice glossary in the back which explains all those mysterious terms you hear about these days. I understand that the new paperback edition has been updated to carry the story right up through the Asia crisis.

W. D. O'Neil ... Read more

12. A Concise Economic History of the World: From Paleolithic Times to the Present
by Rondo Cameron, Larry Neal
list price: $57.33
our price: $57.33
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0195127056
Catlog: Book (2002-06-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 233082
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This classic book offers a broad sweep of economic history from prehistoric times to the present and explores the disparity of wealth among nations. Now in its fourth edition, A Concise Economic History of the World has been updated to reflect the stunning changes in the world economy since 1989. Truly a definitive history of globalization, the new edition has been expanded to include coverage of the most recent developments in the European Union, East Asia, and, in general, transition economies. Comprehensive and global in scope, this concise text features ample illustrations and a fully updated annotated bibliography that guides readers to the relevant scholarly literature. Now available in eleven languages, including Spanish (second edition), French, German (two volumes), Polish, and Chinese, this unique work remains an invaluable, lively, and accessible text for both undergraduate and graduate students of European economic history, the history of globalization, and world development. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Not Bad
The title of this book should read "An Economic History of Europe," because 90% of the material focuses on the economic development of Europe. This is understandable considering that the industrial revolution first occured in Europe, and pulsated outwards. However, the amount of time given towards explaining the economies of the middle east, Asia, Oceania, Australasia, Africa, Latin America, and even the USA are so minute that the title is decieving and for all intensive purposes incorrect.

Nevertheless, the book is quite interesting, as it progresses from the dawn of human civilization with very concise and brief summaries well in to the twentieth century becoming more desciptive and detailed. If you are interested in how the world economy arrived to its current level, then I would suggest that this book is a good read and worth your while. Since this edition was published in 1997, it is excusable for the author to omit the economic consequences of the Euro, the rise of China and the rest of Asia, and the economic implications of Septemer 11. The author also refuses to offer his speculative view on the future of the world economies, thereby leaving the reader to do his or her on guess work. Although the introduction of the book, on the current inequality of world economies, is quite interesting, it is not elaborated upon towards the end of the book, and causes a lack of continuity. If you wish to understand better the world economy, you would be better off reading the encyclopedia, Lonely Planet travel guides, or perhaps even better, (what I have done) which is to travel and see these countries for yourself with your own eyes.

5-0 out of 5 stars The total economic history of the world in laymans words
Rondo Cameron certainly explains the hold economic history of the world. Rondo takes you from the ages before Christ to the twenthieth century. Why did the Roman Empire went down?, Why Spain was not able to achieve higher levels of economical well-being despite their big colonies overseas?: Questions like these are answered in Rondo's excellent book. If a man wants to forsee the future, he has to go back and learn where he comes from. Economics and History were successfully married in the book, so historians, economists and financiers will find it helpfull.

4-0 out of 5 stars Eurocentric, but focused
Don't expect "A concise economic history of the world" from Cameron's work. Do expect, however, an excellent account of Europe's economic history. If you want a more global, less "economic" account of the pre-modern world, try Janet Abu-Lughod. As for the modern world, a synthesis of Cameron and Asian experts would provide the comprehensive picture Cameron's title implies.

5-0 out of 5 stars Concise, informative and extremely well written
This is one of the best books on economic history that I have read. This book is an excellent start for a person interested in economic history: it is well written, it is well structured, and overall fun to read. This book is an excellent overview and a very good guide. One thing for sure: it's an excellent way to spend your time. It enriched my knowledge of economics and history and became a good companion. ... Read more

13. The World That Trade Created : Culture, Society and the World Economy, 1400 to the Present
by Kenneth Pomeranz, Steven Topik
list price: $21.95
our price: $21.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765602504
Catlog: Book (2000-12)
Publisher: M. E. Sharpe
Sales Rank: 136291
Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book for AP World History
This was my first year teaching AP World History so I had to rely on the books chosen by the previous/outgoing teacher. I wasn't familiar with this book and had to read it AFTER the class read it since they read it over the summer and BEFORE I was hired.

The book is excellent for AP World History for a number of reasons:

1- It thesis ties directly into one of the main themes of the AP World History course.

2- It is divided up into sections dealing with different aspects of world trade, making the book highly readable for 10th graders.

3- The topics are interesting to the kids. They especially liked reading about Drugs: Chocolate, Tea, and Coffee.

I wanted to use Diamond's book this year, but fell in love with this book. Maybe I'll try both. I can hear the groans and gnashing of teeth now!

4-0 out of 5 stars A fun read!
Several years ago, a former student called on his history professors to write a short entertaining article in a magazine he had started for businessmen. This article became a regular feature in the magazine, and now these short stories - these vignettes - have been organized thematically into a book.

*The World That Trade Created* proves that economic history need not be boring or dry. While the stories introduce readers to people, places, times, and events that put "globalization" into historical perspective, this is definitely not a textbook. Perhaps the highest compliment that I can offer is that it is more suited to the bedside table than the classroom.

Pomeranz and Topik have assembled an entertaining and informative collage of historical snapshots centered more around oceans than continents, and (despite the 1400-Present subtitle) more upon the premodern and early modern trade than modern international trade. For the most part, this is a world in which geography and meteorology impose formidable, but not insuperable barriers to trans-hemispheric encounter and exchange, a world where drugs (coffee, sugar, chocolate, opium) "are the foundation of the world economy, not its aberration," a world which is not Eurocentric, but polycentric and multi-cultural.

There is something for everyone in this book - businessmen, travelers, history buffs, economists, geographers, students, and educators. The only thing missing are maps which, given the exotic locales that are often introduced, would be extremely helpful.

3-0 out of 5 stars Anecdotes with no depth
There are different approaches to taking on the challenging task of writing a world history in a short book, and one of them is the anecdotal approach. This approach may work well in maintaining interest, skipping from one story to another, providing variety but no depth. But then, sometimes, the anecdotes are so short that they almost become inaccurate or misleading. I think this book suffered for that, but some of the anecdotes, especially the longer ones, offer fresh and honest insights that many of the longer textbooks lack. This book would be OK as a supplement in an AP World History class.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and realistic
Products: Sugar, coffee, tea, textiles, etc. Areas: Asia, the Americas, Europe, Africa, etc. Economic issues: contracts, finance, property rights, information, technology. I am familiar with a number of the areas Pomeranz and Topik describe and greatly appreciate their eclectic, realistic, universal viewpoint. Highly recommend.

1-0 out of 5 stars AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!
I was made to read this book by my 10th grdae AP World History Teacher...It is quite possibly the WORST BOOK I have ever read....both in school and out....If it is humanly possible, STEER CLEAR FROM THE WORLD THAT TRADE CREATED!!! ... Read more

14. The Birth of Plenty : How the Prosperity of the Modern World was Created
by WilliamBernstein
list price: $29.95
our price: $18.87
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Asin: 0071421920
Catlog: Book (2004-04-02)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Sales Rank: 4506
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description


Praise for The Birth of Plenty:

"Bill Bernstein has given us a compact and immensely readable economic, political, military, and institutional history of our civilization that is a tour de force.Put everything else down.Take a deep breath.Open The Birth of Plenty.And prepare to be amazed.

--John C. Bogle, Founder and Former CEO, The Vanguard Group

"The Birth of Plenty is a brilliantly written, whirlwind account of how the modern world was formed.It is a hugely enjoyable read, full of vigor and liveliness, and a book every American should possess--at least those who treasure our abundant life and care about our future."

--William Schultheis, Author, The Coffeehouse Investor

"Put simply, this is my favorite economic history book. It gathers what is interesting about economic history to draw important lessons."
--Ed Tower,Professor of Economics, Duke University

"William Bernstein scrutinizes the research literature, distills it with originality and insight, then shares the results with classic Bernstein clarity and wit. Ideologues on both political wings should prepare to have their assumptions challenged."

--Bernard Sherman, Host, Talk of Iowa - Focus on Finance radio show

A daring look at the development of human prosperity--how it was created, and where it's headed

In the breakthrough spirit of Against the Gods, William Bernstein's The Birth of Plenty has the topical uniqueness and storytelling panache to literally create its own category and reader. Based upon the premise that mankind experienced virtually zero economic growth from the dawn of time until 1820, this provocative, bigpicture book identifies the four conditions necessary for sustained economic progress--property rights, scientific rationalism, capital markets, and communications and transportation technology-- and then analyzes their gradual appearance and impact throughout every corner of the globe. Filled with bestselling author William Bernstein's trademark meticulous research and page-turning writing style, The Birth of Plenty explores:

  • Where the world economy could be headed next
  • Implications of the book's thesis for today's society
  • How the absence of one or more of the conditions continues to threaten beleaguered regions

Rare is the book that proposes an entirely new premise, validates that premise with inarguable research and analysis, and then explains beyond question both the relevance and the implications of its premise to the reader and the world at large. The Birth of Plenty is just such a book. From its unique, topical subject matter to its tremendous review potential, this insightful book will be one of the most talked-about volumes of the publishing season.

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Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing research; easy read *** highly recommended ***
I really enjoyed this book. Bernstein takes you through four, well-written and succinct "histories of": property rights, scientific rationalism, capital markets and communication/transportation. These summaries are full of detail, yet crisply presented, and alone are worth the price of the book. Bernstein then looks at these factors at work during history and in various countries and makes a very compelling case that they are the key to economic growth, prosperity and democracy. This is an amazing research effort in time and scope. But rest assured it is written in Bernstein's usual, easy-to-read and intelligent style.
John Scordo

5-0 out of 5 stars Say What?
The previous reviewer and I seem not to have read the same book. Nowhere does Bernstein state that all four factors had their origins around 1820-his history of property rights, which dates back to prehistoric times, is very simply the best that I have read anywhere. Nor do I know of any economic authority who doubts that the improvements in property rights in Northern Europe were a major cause of its prosperity, not the other way around. The reviewer, who touts his historical expertise, also seems unaware that Da Gama's most celebrated voyage of discovery took place during the fifteenth century, not the sixteenth.

Both the general reader, as well as historians and economists, will find Bernstein's four-factor paradigm invaluable in understanding how the world arrived in its present state. His prose is lively, and given the weight of the subject, goes down like fine claret. You don't even have to take my word for it-according to the April 5 edition of Publishers Weekly, "Packed with information and ideas, Bernstein's book is an authoritative economic history, accessible and thoroughly entertaining."

5-0 out of 5 stars So much info, so easy to read, a rare combination!
William Bernstein is an excellent economics and business writer. I have read several of his other books, including "Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk." He is also a very savvy writer on investment theory. Bernstein has the ability to teach and write about technical concepts in the most accessible way. "The Birth of Plenty" is no exception. This book covers such a breadth of subjects regarding economics, political science, history from the antiquity to nowadays.

His theory is not unique. The countries who prosper are the ones who give their citizen the right to own their property, to communicate freely with each other, to practice the scientific method to replace outdated traditional knowledge, and to take business risk with other people's money. In summary, the countries who prosper are the ones who allow individuals to reap the fruits of their risk-taking efforts. These are not new and original ideas.

After all, there is a long list of economics writers who pretty much said the same thing starting with Adam Smith back in 1776 in the "Wealth of Nations." More recently, Hernando de Soto wrote about the exact same subject in "The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism triumphs in the West and fails everywhere else." Also, David Landes' book "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some are So Rich and Some So Poor" adopts the exact same theory as Bernstein's. My list could go on an on. This is because it is a subject that fascinates and never gets exhausted.

Even though all the above books are excellent and some are true classics in comparative international economics, Bernstein's book shines because it is so much more readable, accessible, and entertaining to read. While the others come across as dull economics professors, Bernstein comes across as an incredibly lively journalist. He turns his treaty on economics history into a real page turner giving David Browne's "Da Vinci Code" a run for his money [in the page turning department]. Thus, by reading this book you will learn just as much if not more than the other books I have mentioned, and you will have so much more fun.

5-0 out of 5 stars Worth the read of developmental economics
Read this book and you have about 3/4 the content for a developmental economics class. However there is no mention of welfare economics which is about 1/4 the remaining content of a development economics class. There is also no mention of "micro-lending"-lending small amounts of money to poor third-world people, which have remarkable results for lifting poor third world people above poverty. I'm not about to disclose the thesis of this book because only the individual can decide is a book is efficacious. With that said, my opinion is that this book is a good worthwhile read. While I am fairly well read in economics and I learned a few things reading "Birth of Plenty". The mind set of 18th century Europe makes one wonder what were those royals thinking? They were way off their thinking about how to grow the wealth of their nations. Also the there is now new data that William Berstein shares with us with new insight.

The book is well written, the structure of the book is clear, the author has a point and it is clear.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful blend of history and macroeconomics
Bernstein does a very good job of tracing macroeconomic trends through a historical prism. He makes great use of long-term, hard data and annecdotes to illustrate his points. This book would serve well as the basis for a graduate business course on global economic history. Bernstein provides just the right amount of depth in each section so that you have enough hostorical context to make the economic background interesting and alive. ... Read more

15. Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron
by Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind
list price: $26.95
our price: $17.79
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Asin: 1591840082
Catlog: Book (2003-09-01)
Publisher: Portfolio
Sales Rank: 2893
Average Customer Review: 4.42 out of 5 stars
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Like its subject, The Smartest Guys in the Room is ambitious, grand in scope, and ruthless in its dealings. Unlike Enron, the Texas-based energy giant that has come to represent the post-millennium collapse of 1990s go-go corporate culture, it's also ultimately successful. Penned by Fortune scribes Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, the 400-page-plus chronicle of the scandal digs deep inside the numbers while, wisely, maintaining focus on the "smart guys" deep-frying the books. The likes of paternal but disengaged CEO Ken Lay (dubbed "Kenny Boy" by George W. Bush, one of many prominent public figures with whom he rubbed shoulders), cutthroat man-behind-the-curtain Jeff Skilling, and ethically blind numbers whiz Andy Fastow vividly come to life as they make a mockery of conventional accounting practices and grow increasingly arrogant and bind to their collective hubris. They're not a likable lot, and the writers find it difficult to suppress their astonishment and revulsion with the crew who rapidly went from golden boys and girls of the financial world to pariahs when the bill finally came due. The authors' unrepressed sarcasms are more than often unnecessarily given the scope of the outrage. Enron's leading lights were or a time celebrated for their ability to concoct nearly unfathomable business schemes to hide mounting shortfalls and keeping track on their machinations can be a chore, but, by sticking hard to the story behind the fall, McLean and Elkind have reported and written the definitive account of the Enron debacle. --Steven Stolder ... Read more

Reviews (38)

5-0 out of 5 stars The "Exorcist" for Business Readers
This book scared the hell out of me. With the scandals at Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Adelphia, etc., one has to ask - "Where Else?"

While it focuses on the people and personalities directing Enron, the book very rightly points out that this Ponzi-Scheme of a company could never have existed if not for the complicity, corruption and willful ignorance of individuals and organizations who were supposed to act as checks and balances. Simply put, Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling & Andrew Fastow were able to bully, buy or dupe the following:

1. The Enron Board, who questioned almost nothing.
2. Arthur Andersen, who was corrupted by large consulting fees, and the "glamor" that was Enron.
3. Wall Street Equity Analysts, who were long ago compromised.
4. Large commercial banks, who allowed themselves to be played like violins by Fastow.
5. The business press, who with rare exception, acted as cheerleaders for Enron.
6. Debt-Rating agencies such as Moody's and S&P for shallow due dilligence.

Make no mistake, this is a horror story. So much loss and pain due to extremely bright folks with no moral compass! Throughout the book, I found myself asking "can an organization this unethical, cutthroat and STUPID have really existed?" I didn't know if I should be outraged or horribly depressed (BOTH!). If I had a critisim of the book, it would be that it should have contained an appendix that illustrated the financial position (on-balance sheet & total) to help readers fully comprehend the magnitude of what went on.

I recommend this book to anyone who owns more than $10 in stock.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not For Lay People
There's blame galore to go around for the spectacular downfall of Enron Corp in that sober year of 2001. Accountants, rating agencies, regulators, lawyers, consultants, bankers--and these are just the bad actors outside the corporation. Look inside, where Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind treat their readers to a thorough journalistic scouring, and the smell of the rot almost wafts off the pages.

The authors rightly spend the vast majority of the book examining the personalities and circumstances that allowed the company to become what it was at the end of its life. Mix a potion that's one part hardscrabble Harvard MBAs, one part energy deregulation, and one part hysterical bull market, and you've got a financial molotov cocktail. Sadly, as we all know now, it was largely the little guy who paid the price for all the hubris of the players in this story, a fact that tends to get lost in the authors' painstaking recreation of the most complicated shell game in history.

But the story of Enron's fallout could provide the material for a whole other book. In this one we get the tale of the players, people like Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, Rebecca Mark and Andy Fastow, all filled with an equal mix of remarkable brilliance and fatal arrogance. All are indicted by these authors as rabid players in a game they made up themselves, deeming themselves beyond the petty world of rules and regulation. But coming in for equal excoriation is the system itself, the web of enablement and intimidation that allowed Andy Fastow to quietly hammer together the company's coffin in the form of a maze of phantom accounting entities designed to prop of the appearance of the corpse inside. The most unnerving theme the book treats indirectly is the effect of mass psychology--the way exceptional personalities distort and transform reality on a systemic scale. And it offers little in the way of how something like this could ever be prevented in the future.

One word of warning for people not acquainted with basic finance: this is a complicated story, about erstwhile geniuses in the arcane use of financial products and regulatory loopholes. Though it's enjoyable even if one can't follow every detour down each accounting scheme, some knowledge of Wall Street and its workings seems necessary to understand the implications of the book overall. Given the fact that most experts didn't understand what went on here, the authors do their best to keep things as simple as possible, often using helpful metaphors and simple summations after a few pages of analysis, but they have no choice but to assume a level of sophistication among their readers.

Which leads to one gripe. In "The Smartest Guys In the Room" not a single institution or individual player involved with Enron escapes the authors' finger-pointing notice, with but one exception. Where were the journalists in all this? Why did short-sellers have to be the ones to ask all the tough questions? Bethany Mclean should take understandable pride in being the first one to pry the door open on Enron's malfeasance, but she was just a little late. One would think that with the mass of financial journalists on CNBC, the Journal, the Times, etc., that just one would have bucked the collective cheering squad and dug deeper into what this supposedly invincible company was up to. But of course, this was the bull market. A time when everyone was exuberant when they should have been scared.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must for the non-sceptic
My blood ran cold reading of how long the officers of this firm managed to pull the wool over the investment community's eyes, aided and abetted by the deleriction of duty of those in whom we trust (and pay hansomely) to guard against such crooks. If there was ever a book to convince investors to do their own homework and to think independently, this is it. A well written and an engaging read. Well worth the money.

5-0 out of 5 stars Who Are These Guys
I chose the above title quote from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" to highlight my review. The authors provide a biography of many of the Enron players that lets us know what these guys were all about at their core. For example, Jeff Skilling spent almost all his after-school time working at a television station. Yet, he went to college without a dime because he blew all his pay in the stock market-buying stocks on margin. Never mind though because he got an impressive academic scholarship anyway because of his "brilliance." The authors provide other telling stories about the other major players. Ken Lay, the Baptist preacher's boy who preached exemplary corporate values, had an affair with his secretary, and later divorced his first wife to marry her. Yes, this is the same lady who went on television complaining about being broke while her family still owned millions of dollars in real estate. Lay's number two guy-not Skilling-who shacked up with a different Ken Lay secretary at Enron, costing himself annointment as Lay's successor. By the way, this guy now is a billionaire. Having that affair with Lay's secretary, later marrying her, was the smartest thing he ever did because he left Enron to found his own high-flying energy company. Rebecca Mark got a leg up from another Enron mentor by having a tempestous affair with him. The stories like this go on and on.

The authors provide far more detail about company history and the accounting conspiracies that brought it down. As a professional accountant, I am even more convinced now that Arthur Andersen deserved to fail for approving many of the tricks that Enron used to book fictitious profits. The authors point out that near the end, nearly 85% of Enron's total debt wasn't on their books, but "lay" in off balance sheet special purpose entities. The auditors couldn't understand the meaning of the standard sentence in an audit report that states that the financial statements "present fairly the financial condition and operations of Enron in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles." They over emphasized generally accepted accounting principles and ignored the term "present fairly." Good riddance to them.

The authors certainly are not admirers of Skilling, Fastow, or most of the other Enron players. For example they say of Skilling in their Epilogue, "He does not seem to have any remorse about his own actions, any sense that he hired the wrong people, got into the wrong businesses, or emphasized the wrong values. The fault, in his view, lies in a world that did not and will not appreciate the sheer newness of what Enron was trying to do." At the end, Jesse Jackson-yes that Jesse-held prayer meetings in the hall to comfort the afflicted who suddenly realized they needed forgiveness. Skilling didn't attend. I hope Jesse says a few prayers to protect Jeff while he's in prison. He'll need them, as well as a lifetime supply of "soap on a rope."

Certain Enron principals flew to their bankruptcy hearing in their mega-bucks Gulfstream 5 executive jet and stayed at the plush Four Seasons in Manhattan. As one of the offending executives said, "Maybe we should have flown on Southwest and stayed at the Ramada." In short, yes.

3-0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity
Excellent journalism and very well articulated research from McLean and Elkind make this a gripping read for anyone who wants to understand the forces that drive corporate greed. Banks, rating agencies, lawyers and accountants are not spared in what is a scathing criticism of profitability over ethics and plain common sense. What disapponted me, however, was the authors' obvious decision to skim over the political elements of the whole scandal. Kenneth Lay was one of the single largest individual contributors to the Bush campaign in 2000 and also made available corporate resources, such as company jets, on numerous occasions. Dick Cheney had secret meetings with company executives at a time that the wheels were beginning to fall off and it is impossible to believe that this was all innocuous, although in the rare instances that the authors refer to such events, they will have you believe that this was the case. Time will hopefully still reveal more about the murky political dealings of Enron, but it is a crying shame that this otherwise very well written book is not a place where you will learn anything at all about that dimension, despite there being no shortage of facts to be found elsewhere in the public domain. ... Read more

16. Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises (Wiley Investment Classics)
by Charles P.Kindleberger
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0471389455
Catlog: Book (2001-01-12)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 30406
Average Customer Review: 3.25 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"Sometime in the next five years you may kick yourself for not reading and re-reading Kindleberger’s Manias, Panics, and Crashes." –Paul A. Samuelson, Institute Professor Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"One never picks up a work by Charles Kindleberger without anticipating a feast of entertainment. But underneath the hilarious anecdotes, the elegant epigrams, and the graceful turns of phrase, Kindleberger is deadly serious. The manner in which human beings earn their livings is no laughing matter to him, especially when they attempt to do so at the expense of one another." –from the Foreword by Peter L. Bernstein, author of Against the Gods and The Power of Gold

Praise for Manias, Panics, and Crashes

"Classic. . . . Manias, Panics, and Crashes is a durable guide to meditation: wise, witty, and practical. It is a template against which to measure the latest financial crisis–whatever and whenever that happens to be." –David Warsh, Boston Globe

"Definitive." –Floyd Norris, New York Times

"Menacing..." –The New Yorker

"[Manias, Panics, and Crashes] is a scholarly account of the way that mismanagement of money and credit has led to financial explosions over the centuries."–Richard Lambert, Financial Times

"This book sparkles with the best of Kindleberger’s wit, insight, and passion for financial history. A real delight."–Robert Z. Aliber, Professor of International Economics and Finance, University of Chicago, Graduate School of Business

"What long has been the best history of financial pathologies is now even better. The reader who absorbs Kindleberger’s lessons will be prepared to foresee and navigate the financial crises that surely lie ahead. Like a true classic, Manias, Panics, and Crashes is both timely and timeless." –Richard Sylla, Kaufman Professor of Financial History, Stern School of Business, New York University ... Read more

Reviews (24)

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and non-useful
The subtitle of this book, "A History of Financial Crises", is misleading since the book is actually a *commentary* on the history of financial crises. As such, it assumes that the reader is already familiar with the history of financial crises from 1600 to the present. The book is organized by the phases of a financial crisis, resulting in a near-complete lack of chronological coherence. The author may typically be talking about the Dutch tulip mania of 1636 in one sentence and the panic of 1907 in the next sentence, a style which quickly becomes exasperating. The overall purpose of the book appears to be the promotion of a thesis favoring the concept of a "lender of last resort" in order to mitigate financial crises. Consequently the book reads like an academic treatise, which is basically what it is. This approach is, in this reviewer's opinion, self-indulgent on the part of the author who appears to be addressing a readership primarily in academia, government and perhaps a limited segment of the banking industry. This book is neither instructive nor useful for the general reader.

4-0 out of 5 stars Sorry amazon, I read the library's copy...
I'm puzzled by some of the negative comments about this book here, as I'm neither an economist nor a historian and I found the book quite accessible and interesting. The fairly predictable sequence of events leading to crashes, which have been played out many times in the past, is the book's central theme. Some of the story-telling could even be described as fascinating at times, though my knowledge of the subject was pretty much limited to what one learns of the famed `29 crash in high school american history.

Anyway, the critics here are not entirely wrong, though I think they're being a bit nit-picky. I don't think the widely-read and educated lay-person should be scared off. I liked the book, learned something significant from it, was mildly entertained and impressed by the author's plethora of knowledge, and occasionally recommend it to those with an interest in financial markets, especially their so-called irrational side.

4-0 out of 5 stars extremely valuable and informative, though incomplete
for the economist in me, i resent the fact that the author didn't include the relevant quant / charts of the macroecon factors that precipitated the various extreme situations he describes. having said that, this book does describe the aforementioned factors, as well as detailed accounts of precipitiating factors, outcomes and, sadly, reoccurrences.

if one had read this book prior to 99, one would have profited from the nasdaq meltdown. ---if that's not an endorsement, i don't know what is.

5-0 out of 5 stars An elegant and informed look at markets
Kindelberger's work is a classic study of speculative bubbles and their consequences, and should be read as such. From the first, this is a book that aims to seperate market moves from genuine crises - important in an age were there is a tendancy for the media to seek to dramatise the mundane in order to winn a BAFTA. The definitions provide a framework for examining the development of an irrational interlude in financial markets.

Kindelberger's analysis is not, therefore, a classic "history" primer for the curious - there is no spoonfeeding of facts, for that is not what the book sets out to present. Instead, this is an elegant and informed look at what how financial markets have departed from the course theoretical "rational" behaviour suggests that they should have taken. For all that, it is still an accessible text to those who take a casual interest in financial markets.

5-0 out of 5 stars A chronicle of financial irrationality
Those who lost money in the 1990's stock market bubble may be tempted to think that they have been cursed with misfortune of unparalleled proportions. Reading "Manias, Panics, and Crashes" will surely change their mind. Bubbles, they will learn, are an enduring feature of financial markets, and generations of investors have fallen in the trap of buying very high to sell even higher, only to find that the frenzy cannot last for ever.

The mania part of the story is familiar: a new invention will revolutionize the economic landscape and bring forth unimaginable profits. The abundance of credit, coupled with leverage (buying with borrowed money), accelerates this process and buying leads to more buying. Then comes the panic: some event shakes confidence and wakes up investors to the mania that has clouded their judgment. This panic leads to a crash: borrowed money needs to be repaid and investors will sell anything at any price to meet the bankers' needs.

Charles Kindleberger has chronicled dozens of financial bubbles spanning more than four centuries. His historiography is impressive and the reader can often wonder how Kindleberger amassed such large amounts of data: his sources are primary and secondary, and they come from economics, history, politics, and even literature. The text is well written and the reader hardly notices that the ride covers centuries' worth of financial troubles.

What, in the end, is Kindleberger's moral? Most cures for dealing with financial troubles, he writes, are no cures at all. Raising interest rates has not proven particularly useful and neither has continued warning from authorities that the investing public is inflating a bubble. The solution, he believes, lies in having a lender of last resort. The trick, of course, is to avoid moral hazard and prevent the public from gambling due to the reassurance of a lender of last resort. The answer is ambiguity: the lender can come in and save the day but investors should never be certain that help is forthcoming.

In the end, "Manias, Panics, and Crashes" is a classic account of financial bubbles and its immense history and shrewd analysis will appeal to both the layman and the expert. And the book's message, that financial bubbles have to be met with an artful lender, should be taken at heart by those interested in the past and future of financial crises. ... Read more

17. Race, Gender, and Work: A Multicultural Economic History of Women in the United States
by Teresa L. Amott, Julie Matthaei, Teresa Amott
list price: $21.00
our price: $21.00
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Asin: 0896085376
Catlog: Book (1996-09-01)
Publisher: South End Press
Sales Rank: 163840
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18. The Great Crash 1929
by John Kenneth Galbraith
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0395859999
Catlog: Book (1997-04-30)
Publisher: Mariner Books
Sales Rank: 39199
Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars
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Rampant speculation. Record trading volumes. Assets bought not because of their value but because the buyer believes he can sell them for more in a day or two, or an hour or two. Welcome to the late 1920s. There are obvious and absolute parallels to the great bull market of the late 1990s, writes Galbraith in a new introduction dated 1997. Of course, Galbraith notes, every financial bubble since 1929 has been compared to the Great Crash, which is why this book has never been out of print since it became a bestseller in 1955.

Galbraith writes with great wit and erudition about the perilous actions of investors, and the curious inaction of the government. He notes that the problem wasn't a scarcity of securities to buy and sell; "the ingenuity and zeal with which companies were devised in which securities might be sold was as remarkable as anything." Those words become strikingly relevant in light of revenue-negative start-up companies coming into the market each week in the 1990s, along with fragmented pieces of established companies, like real estate and bottling plants. Of course, the 1920s were different from the 1990s. There was no safety net below citizens, no unemployment insurance or Social Security. And today we don't have the creepy investment trusts--in which shares of companies that held some stocks and bonds were sold for several times the assets' market value. But, boy, are the similarities spooky, particularly the prevailing trend at the time toward corporate mergers and industry consolidations--not to mention all the partially informed people who imagined themselves to be financial geniuses because the shares of stock they bought kept going up. --Lou Schuler ... Read more

Reviews (27)

5-0 out of 5 stars Very relevant today
Recall the talk before the bust of the "New Economy," in which distended P/E ratios and lack of profits were to be irrelevant. Recall Enron's public proclamations of its stability and projected earnings increases. Keep these in mind as you read The Great Crash, and you will never again listen to an analyst, much less an executive.

Galbraith's theme is that market stability and corporate interests are fundamentally at odds. CEOs will never speak evil about their own companies or the condition of the market, so their speech is about as useful to an investor as a pre-game pep talk is to a bettor. Analysts, as well as executives, are salesmen of their own stock, and their primary objective is to get you to buy high.

So why did the 1929 -- or the 2000 -- crash occur? Buying high is great as long as someone is always buying higher; however, such an aggrandized pyramid scheme is doomed to failure. It's as simple as that. So why, then, read Galbraith's book? He is a talented storyteller, and he highlights themes that are likely to accompany future bubbles so that the reader knows what to be skeptical about. This is a very entertaining read, and if you actively compare what Galbraith tells you of the 20's to what you know about the 90's, you'll likely not be swept away by future investing mania.

4-0 out of 5 stars Timeless Classic -- Style A Bit Insouciant
Somebody on urged me to read this Galbraith volume because, he noted, "the parallels with current economic conditions -- with an out-of-control, logic-defying stock market, and happy-face government posturing in face of obvious disaster -- make it a must read." Fine. I bought this book 2 weeks ago on amazon (I'm a regular) and just finished.

True, the parallels are there. And I highly recommend the work if nothing more than to highlight in the reader's mind the elements of human nature that insure that we will always have depressions -- every 70 years or so ... secula seculorum... but in a small way, I expected more.

I find Galbraith (author of some 20 works on economics) to lack an emotional, visceral style that should have enunciated a polished telling of this critical set of events - (I say "set" because although October 24, 1929, or "Black Thursday" may have set events in motion... the bottom did not come until July, 1932). To borrow from Trekkies, if I may, I felt like I was following a history lesson from a Vulcan history professor. The chronology was well placed and organized, but there was nothing to help me "feel" the event.

Nonetheless, I appreciated the referral and the read. And I think that this work will have even more renewed interest when the world investment community eventually comes to grips with the lack of rationale in supporting stock values whose P/E ratios stretch well into infinity.

Greg Caton Lumen Foods ( March 14, 1999

4-0 out of 5 stars Exploring the 1929 crash in elegant prose
Economics, like physics, has a fundamental canon: you cannot make money out of nothing. To narrate the history of financial bubbles is to chronicle those times when people overlooked that fact. In those instances, asset prices soar merely to be resold for profit, with little regard as to their actual value; when something shakes confidence and buyers are in short supply, a crash follows as prices were sustainable only insofar as they could be resold higher.

According to John Galbraith, the stock-market crash that took place in the fall of 1929 was typical of this prototype. Mr. Galbraith, a Harvard economist, traced the optimism to the Florida real-estate bubble of 1925 which made people forget the elementary rules of money making. What follows is an elegant narrative that interweaves economics with history to produce one of the most telling and lucid accounts of the developments, economic and otherwise, that lead up to the October 1929 crash.

The crash, according to Mr. Galbraith, was caused by an admixture of bad income distribution (economy too dependent on luxury spending and investment), bad corporate structure, bad banking structure, foreign imbalances, and bad economic intelligence. In seeking compelling explanations, the "Great Crash" often resists conventional wisdom: for example, to those who blame the abundance of credit, Mr. Galbraith answers: "on numerous occasions before and since credit has been easy, and there has been no speculation whatever." Mr. Galbraith looks beyond central banking and interest rates to compile a rich and diverse history of the 1929 crash.

So what about preventing future crises? Here, Mr. Galbraith is ambivalent. Regulation has and can play a substantial role in preventing future troubles. But the problem lies elsewhere: people continue to believe that they have been blessed, and that they can make money with little or no effort. When wise men see such folly and decide to partake in it rather than spoil it, a bubble that later crashes is inevitable. For all those who seek an economic solution to this economic problem, Mr. Galbraith surely disappoints. The surest protection against over-speculation, he writes, is to remind people that you can never get something from nothing. Those in love with central banking might find the idea simplistic, yet its beauty lies with its simplicity.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating. Effective. Inventive.
Galbraith's inventive work on the fascinating events leading up and preceding the 1929 stock market crash is must-read for anyone interested in the national economy, how it functions, how it fails, and what role the federal government plays in perpetuating or stifling the situation.

He very convincingly establishes a good groundwork for the reader, explaining why the stock market was in such a large expansion and how federal regulation (or lack therof) enabled the financial firms to operate in very risky and perhaps unethical ways.

Obviously, the book chronicles the disastrous declines in 1929 and further discusses the federal government's attempts to revive the American economy, those for the most part failed.

The most important lesson this book can allay to the reader is that economies are not self-sustaining structures that are only subject to supply and demand shifts. In instances like the 1929 crash, the prognosis for dynamic economies can often lie in the actions of a handful of actors/people. A good lesson to remember.

Indeed there are many lessons to be learned from this book, many that are relevant to today's economy (2003). Read this book with care and with a comparative mindset!

A must read for economists and public policy makers!

3-0 out of 5 stars Informing, but slow
The book The Great Crash 1929 by John Kenneth Galbraith was very informative, full of facts and other things which made me understand what the great crash was all about. Although, the book went slow, and I often lost interest in it seeing as how it blasted me with information. I would recommend this book to anybody who really wants to learn about the great depresion, and about how unpredictable the stock market can really be. ... Read more

19. Every Man a Speculator : A History of Wall Street in American Life
by Steve Fraser
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0066620481
Catlog: Book (2005-02-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Sales Rank: 22171
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Wall Street is a window into the soul of America and a battleground for a clash of the nation's values. So writes Steve Fraser, author of the epic book Every Man a Speculator. Fraser sets out to chronicle not so much the history of the "Street" itself, but its place in American society. Since the founding of United States, he says, Wall Street has been the place where Americans have wrestled with their beliefs about work and play, democracy and capitalism, gambling and investment, equality and freedom, God and mammon, heroes and villains.

This is an ambitious, fascinating tale peopled with infamous confidence men, cold-hearted fraudsters, and ruined speculators, through whose eyes Fraser tells virtually an alternative history of America. The 721-page book starts with William Duer, the country's original market swindler, who manipulated government bonds after the Revolution and died in debtors' prison. Duer's frauds left a deep suspicion of Wall Street among many of America's Founding Fathers and the general public. That suspicion only intensified, Fraser writes, after the panic of 1873, which Mark Twain satirized in his novel The Gilded Age, and the 1929 crash, after which Wall Street came under public supervision for the first time. After World War II, the Street staged a remarkable turnaround, as its "wise men" became key figures behind the Marshall Plan, NATO, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Today, despite the dot-com crash and corporate-fraud scandals, Fraser writes that Wall Street has still managed to retain a positive image in America's new "shareholder society." But he concludes on a dark tone expressing concerns about "gathering thunderclouds of world economic disturbance." He warns that any future market crash could plunge the Street back into disgrace while also reviving the political extremism and fascism of the 1930s. Fraser's elegantly written book manages to be both entertaining and thought-provoking. --Alex Roslin ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Must read!
One of the best books you could possibly buy.Engrossing, interesting and a real epic work in my opinion.I am a professor of economics and this filled in a lot of missing pieces concerning economics, politics, culture, and history.Starts from the Revolution, and goes right to the present.I dog-eared many pages!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Cultural Look at America's Wall Street Relationship
In July, 1849, the arrest of a local confidence man attracted national media attention.

It seems the con artist, one William Thompson, genteelly dressed would approach his marks discreetly flashing a handful of cash.He would confide to the mark that he intended to invest the bundle in a sure fire business deal.He offered to invest the mark's cash in the same deal if he would demonstrate confidence in the deal by pleading his money and gold watch.Thompson promised to return the next day with the watch and even more cash.

Of course, he never did.

Throughout history, Americans have held ambivalent views of Wall Street.One moment they see it as one huge casino.The next, they see it as a cloister of scholarly seers who possess a mystical secret for instant success.

Steve Fraser has written a Wall Street history that explores that dilemma's impact on the American psyche.Americans remain preoccupied with the sins and virtues of the financial markets.On one hand they remain committed to their ancestral values of hard work, play, equality, well-being and national purpose.Yet, they are still magnetically drawn to promises of instant wealth and success.

This well-written, thoroughly researched history explores this chronic tension.Through the colorful tales of confidence men and aristocrats, he offers the reader unique insights into our collective view of American Capitalism and its changing culture.

4-0 out of 5 stars The story of popular perception of scandals on Wall Street
Steve Fraser writes in clear, vivid, and energetic prose.His passion for the story he tells is easy to see on every page of this big book.It moves along and keeps the reader turning pages to see what happens next.That really is not all that easy to pull off in writing history.

"Every Man a Speculator" is subtitled "A History of Wall Street in American Life".Some subtitles are throwaways.However, this subtitle actually tells you more about the focus of the book than the main title.This is more about the history of public perception of Wall Street.Mr. Fraser is especially strong in telling us about novels, plays, magazine series, and eventually about movies and other popular notions about Wall Street.

The book does not provide any analysis of how Wall Street works and seems to casually dismiss academic models as simply intellectual opinions rather than providing analysis of their merits or deficiencies.The book focuses on so many scandals over the centuries and the characters that caused them that the reader would be hard pressed to understand that anything other than bad actors and suckers ever bought or sold anything in the financial markets.This is, of course, not true.But since the focus of the book is more about the perception of Wall Street in American life, well, maybe there is more merit in the approach taken here.

However, I think the modern reader could benefit from a deeper and more considered approach.This book can certainly stand as a needed corrective for all the rah-rah boosterism that Wall Street has received for the past couple of decades.However, six hundred pages of one perp-walk after another can distort reality as well, no matter how much fun scandal and malfeasance-meeting-comeuppance can be.

The book also suffers from the occasional lapse in accuracy as well.For example, on page 309 he recounts the old canard about James Hazen Hyde charging his sumptuous "French Ball" to the Equitable and letting the shareholders pay for it.Yet, just last year Pamela Beard's "After the Ball" (also a HarperCollins book) demonstrated clearly that this charge is false and made up by the men who were trying to wrest control of the Equitable from Hyde.The author also seems awfully focused on J P Morgan, who was supremely influential, but I am not sure he deserves the opprobrium showered on him here.Nor does J D Rockefeller deserve as little attention as he received here.

Anyway, this was a fun read and offered some colorful anecdotes as well as some insights into the literary influence of Wall Street that I did not know anything about.

If your politics lean to the left a bit you will almost certainly enjoy this book even more.It seems to me that if the adults I knew when I was a child were to read this book, given their devotion to the New Deal and their suspicion of all bankers and investments, that they would have agreed with everything bound between the covers of this book.

Four stars because in my rating system I think it would be enjoyed more by those already interested in this topic than a broad general readership. ... Read more

20. Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations (Basic Books Classics)
by Michael Walzer
list price: $22.50
our price: $22.50
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Asin: 0465037054
Catlog: Book (2000-01-01)
Publisher: Basic Books
Sales Rank: 16680
Average Customer Review: 4.12 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A classic treatment of the morality of war written by one of our country's leading philosophers, with a new introduction considering the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. Just and Unjust Wars examines a variety of conflicts in order to understand exactly why, according to Walzer, "the argument about war and justice is still a political and moral necessity." Walzer's classic work draws on historical illustrations that range all the way from the Athenian attack on Melos to this morning's headlines, and uses the testimony of participants-decision makers and victims alike-to examine the moral issues of warfare. ... Read more

Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars superb, even for the non-specialist
This is a great book. Perhaps those with more of a political background would take away something different, but I found it to be a thoughtful look at the (moral) causes of wars and the decisions that come into play. There's always a line in the sand, but Walzer looks at when it is more acceptable to cross it and how those decisions play out. And it's also an interesting book if you are interested in the history of war but get saturated easily. I didn't find this dry.

4-0 out of 5 stars simply a classic
I read a large portion of this book for a course.

For the reader from Washington, DC who only gave this book a one star rating, I would only quote what he/she wrote in his/her comment: "I just don't get this book".

That pretty much reflect why that particular reader doesn't like the book.

First, Walzer is not a "rightist" as some would suggest. He simply accepts the possibility of war. In proposing a link between linkage and war, Walzer simply wants to set some limits as to how far a war can escalate. This is a contribution to the study of war, not an advocacy of war.

Second, Walzer does an exceptional job in using historical examples to illustrate his points. I concede that his examples are based on his interpretations alone and his points are definitely his to make. However, never forget that this book is categorized as "philosophy/political science". Moreover, those who do not make their own interpretations miss the point of reading a book such as this.

Finally, perhaps the biggest point Walzer makes is this: War/conflict is a human creation; its characteristics reflect a wide range of practices that are based on human decisions; and in searching within how humans think, we can see why we haven't killed ourselves yet. And for that, there's still hope for peace.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book on Just War Theory
Walzer's book is a superb introduction to Just War. It addresses both justice of war and justice in war. Most importantly, it is philosophical and deep while at the same time always clear and well illustrated with concrete examples and historical cases. It really could not be better written. Every chapter is concise, fascinating and provides an excellent overview/introduction to its respected subject.

The main framework for Justice of War is the legalist paradigm/domestic analogy. In society, one is allowed to defend oneself if attacked. Analagously, a country can fight a war in self defense. Similarly, if evidence is uncovered that someone is plotting a murder or robbery, domestic authorities don't have to wait until he actually commits the crime to intervene. When the evidence accumulates to a certain level, beyond reasonable doubt say, they can intervene and pre-empt him. Same thing applies on the international scale: pre-emption is legitimate. Walzer illustrates this with the Six Day War of 1967, a preemptive war initiated by Israel. Of course, the current War on Iraq is supposed to be preemptive as well. But, as Walzer shows, it is in fact preventive. Prevention is when you intervene against a known bad person or country without specific evidence of an imminent attack because one believes that this person or country would harm one if it could and it can't be allowed to gain more power, because then it will attack, even though it won't now. Or roughly that ;) Walzer claims that preventive wars sometimes lead to unnecesary wars, to wars against countries that never would have attacked. Therefore, they are unjustified; we should wait until we have sufficient evidence for plans of a definite attack at some point in the near future. I find if persausive.

The stuff on justice in war is just as good. Non-combatants should be immune since they pose no threat. But, of course, who counts as a non-combatant? What about workers in a munitions factory? What about factories pumping out clothes and supplies that the military depends on? Other rules of conduct in war such as unnecessary suffering, double effect, proportionality and torture are discussed. So is the issue of who is responsible for war: just the political leaders? Citizens, too? Very interesting stuff.

I don't completely agree with Walzer, on things like Humanitarian Intervention and some other things, but this is nevertheless a great book. Read this and "Anarchy, State and Utopia" and you'll have a great foundation for a well reasoned political philosophy.

Greg Feirman (

5-0 out of 5 stars Morality of Warfare
Michael Walzer's book is an in-depth look at the morality of war. It is not an easy read especially for the laymen. It helps if the reader has a good grounding in philosophy and understands the idea of "moral relativism". His book makes an in depth study of many facets of what takes place in warfare. The chapter that I found most interesting because it is in the news so much was on pre-emptive warfare. Walzer does believe that countries have the right to go to war pre-emotively but he does set the bar quite high. He believes a country must really be under eminent attack before it acts pre-emotively. He did believe that Israel acted justly in its pre-emptive attack against the Arabs in the 1967 war. He also defines terrorism as a criminal act and not a justifiable act of war. He makes a clear distinction between terrorism and guerilla warfare, deeming guerilla warfare a moral method of warfare.

I recommend this book for military, political professionals and for philosophers.

1-0 out of 5 stars According to this book, Israel is always right
Serious problems with this book include its extremely biased approach of upholding all of Israel's actions as "Just", while making all German actions of WWII look like they were connected with war crimes. Basic premise of the book is that Israeli actions are always right, German and PLO actions are completely wrong, and that the Walzer's view of things is the only valid argument in the world. Extremely biased. The victor truly does decide the justness and "unjustness" of war, and Walzer can only take the Israeli side or the anti-American side of most arguments. ... Read more

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