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The Power of Gold

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In this exciting new book, Peter L. Bernstein, who chronicled the evolution of risk in his recent bestseller, Against the Gods, tells the story of history's most coveted, celebrated, and inglorious asset: gold. From the ancient fascinations of Moses and Midas through the modern convulsions caused by the gold standard and its aftermath, gold has led many of its most eager and proud possessors to a bad end. Gold had them, rather than the other way around. And while the same cycle of obsession and desperation may reverberate in today's fast-moving, electronically-driven stock markets, the role of gold in shaping human history is the striking feature of this tumultuous tale. Such is the power of gold. This fascinating account begins with the magical, religious, and artistic qualities of gold and progresses to the invention of coinage, the transformation of gold into money, and the gold standard. The more important gold becomes as money, the more loudly it speaks of power - even more loudly than when it served as an entry to Heaven or a symbol of omnipotence. Ultimately, the book confronts the future of gold in a world where it appears to have been relegated to the periphery of global finance. From the Bible to the Gold Rush era to modern day Fort Knox and beyond, unforgettable characters stride through these pages. Contemplate gold from the diverse perspectives of monarchs and moneyers, potentates and politicians, men of legendary wealth and others of more plebeian beginnings; from Asia Minor's King Croesus to Rome's noted speculator Crassus, to Byzantine emperors and humble miners, Venice's Marco Polo and Spain's Francisco Pizarro, to Charlemagne and Charles de Gaulle, Richard I and Richard Nixon, Isaac Newton and Winston Churchill, Britain's economists David Ricardo and John Maynard Keynes, and Christopher Columbus and the Forty-Niners. Perhaps most remarkable are the frantic speculators who pushed gold to USD850.00 an ounce in 1980 just as their counterparts twenty years later drove Internet stocks to exorbitant heights. Whether it is Egyptian pharaohs with depraved tastes, the luxury-mad survivors of the Black Death, the Chinese inventor of paper money, the pirates on the Spanish Main, or the hardnosed believers in the international gold standard like the United States' President Herbert Hoover, gold has been the supreme possession. It has been an icon for greed and an emblem of rectitude, as well as a vehicle for vanity and a badge of power that has shaped the destiny of humanity through the ages. As Bernstein muses, "The joke is that nothing is as useless and useful all at the same time." Far more than a tale of romantic myths, daring explorations, and the history of money and power struggles, The Power of Gold suggests that the true significance of this infamous element may lie in the timeless passions it continues to evoke, and what this reveals about ourselves.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Supreme Possession. A METAL FOR ALL SEASONS. Get Gold at All Hazards. Midas's Wish and the Creatures of Pure Chance. Darius's Bathtub and the Cackling of the Geese. The Symbol and the Faith. Gold, Salt, and the Blessed Town. The Legacy of Eoba, Babba, and Udd. The Great Chain Reaction. The Disintegrating Age and the King's Ransoms. The Sacred Thirst. THE PATH TO TRIUMPH. The Fatal Poison and Private Money. The Asian Necropolis and Hien Tsung's Inadvertent Innovation. The Great Recoinage and the Last of the Magicians. The True Doctrine and the Great Evil. The New Mistress and the Cursed Discovery. The Badge of Honor. The Most Stupendous Conspiracy and the Endless Chain. THE DESCENT FROM GLORY. The Norman Conquest. The End of the Epoch. The Transcending Value. World War Eight and the Thirty Ounces of Gold. Epilogue: The Supreme Possession? Notes. Bibliography. Index.

About the Author

PETER L. BERNSTEIN combines the zest of a historian with the meticulous analytical powers of an economist. He is the author of seven books in economics and finance, including Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk and Capital Ideas: The Improbable Origins of Modern Wall Street. He is also President of Peter L. Bernstein, Inc., an economic consultancy to institutional investors, which he founded in 1973 after many years of managing billions of dollars in individual and institutional portfolios. He has lectured widely throughout the U.S. and abroad and has received the highest honors from his peers in the investment profession.


"...with one illustation after another, 'The Power of Gold' amounts to extensive, sophisticated, and engrossing variations on the theme of King Midas." (The New York Times) "Bernstein's volume is a tour de force with a satisfying conclusion." (Business Week) "The range of research evident throughout the book is staggering...Bernstein's ear for the telling quote is pitch perfect." (USA Today) "Power of Gold' holds precious writing, research." (USA Today) "...an entralling look at the people, places, and events that have evoked desperation and frustration in human behavior." (Library Journal Starred Review) "...a master historian at the peak of his art." (Library Journal) "This book is a delight. It is informative, thought provoking and relevant..." (Money Matters, April 2001) "This is a fascinating story."(The City, January 2001) "No one who even scans the pages will fail to be interested by this most fascinating of metals." (Daily Post (Wales), 6th January, 2001) "The story of gold over the last 5,000 years is a fascinating one, which Peter Bernstein relates with verve and wit." (Nature, 11th January 2001) "This is a 24-carat book on a subject close to all our hearts." (The Lady, 2nd January 2001) "There may have been more academically rigorous histories of gold written, but few more erudite or entertaining." (Global Finance, December 2000) "Packed with anecdotes and well researched, Bernstein has produced an exciting and informative book. An excellent read." (Lloyds List, 16th September 2000) "This is a fine piece of economic history. A well-documented, authoritative read, this is also entertaining. ...will enlighten & enthrall." (Portfolio International, December 2000) "A fascinating book..." (The Scotsman, 16th December 2000) "The research is excellent." (Shares, 21st December 2000) "The Power of Gold is 'unputdownable' if you enjoy history." (Scotland on Sunday, 31st December 2000) "... Bernstein, who wrote a much acclaimed book on risk (Against the Gods) does full justice to his materials. Almost every chapter contains some surprise or delight." (Financial Times, 23rd September 2000) "Bernstein's meticulous account highlights the way in which man's struggle for gold has consistently stimulated economic thought and debate." (Time Out, 1st November 2000) "This is altogether a fascinating read." (Aberdeen Press & Journal, 14th October 2000) "Bernstein writes with style and verve and all human life is in there. Thoroughly enjoyable." (The Irish Times, 20th October 2000) "...readers with an interest in history or finance will welcome Bernstein's interesting history of gold and money in the West." (The Independent - Friday Book, 20th October 2000) "...entertainingly tells the history of humankind's great obsession." (New Scientist, 21st October 2000) "The book furnishes a pleasantly glided backcloth to the current fashion for economic history." (Director, October 2000) "This book contains enough history, politics and finance to be of serious academic worth." (Focus, November 2000) "A well worked history of the once mighty metal." (Financial Times, 7th October 2000)

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