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Semi-review: The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson

25 March 2009

I’ve been attempting to write a book review post on Niall Ferguson’s The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, but the Economist has provided an assessment that all but sums up most of my main points. The book is indeed rushed, and though it starts out well enough it does become more uneven as the chapters progress. The earlier chapters do a decent job of introducing the basic evolution of certain key facets of high finance — government bonds, company stocks, insurance and pensions, and the like — but Ferguson drops in a lot of financial terms without always providing basic explanations, which will frustrate the uninitiated and exasperate the expert. Nonetheless, careful readers who are not afraid of chasing up footnotes will likely find much more information for further reading — in fact, one might be better off simply reading the footnotes and starting from there.

The Ascent of Money provided me with a few other titles to look into, so I suppose I owe it to mention that much. But overall, it was more than a bit of a letdown.

(Also, a quick note to mention that my review backlog is reaching embarrassing proportions — I hope to have a few more full reviews ready to post quite soon.)

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