GREENBACK PLANET by H.W. Brands

GREENBACK PLANET

How the Dollar Conquered the World and Threatened Civilization As We Know It

KIRKUS REVIEW

In this succinct overview, two-time Pulitzer finalist Brands (History/Univ. of Texas; The Murder of Jim Fisk for the Love of Josie Mansfield: A Tragedy of the Gilded Age, 2011, etc.) traces the role of the dollar in shaping America's rise to global preeminence.

The author looks at historical benchmarks beginning with two signal events: the issuance of greenbacks as legal tender in 1862 and the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The establishment of the Federal Reserve System 50 years later formalized the second pole in the pendulum swings of U.S. financial policy—between emphasis on a balanced budget and tight credit and the liquidity needed to support industrial growth and high employment, both of which are at the forefront of today's political controversies. Following World War I, the increasingly important international role of the United States led to the establishment of the gold-backed dollar as a global currency, and its replacement by the greenback in 1971 when Richard Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold. Along with an overview of the past 150 years, Brands examines fascinating little-known sidelights. While William Jennings Bryan's famous pro-silver speech attacked the gold-backed dollar, in the 1870s silver was the scarcer metal and silver dollars a rarity. Contrary to the prevailing opinion that America's international dominance rests on the country's military, Brands ascribes it to the “dollar's power” which enabled the nation to “insist on market-opening measures.” The author suggests that in the 21st century, American financial hegemony will be replaced, leaving America's international role in the new post-dollar world an open question.

A welcome, balanced look at this hotly debated issue, written with the author's usual flair.

 

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-292-72341-2
Page count: 142pp
Publisher: Univ. of Texas
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2011




BOOKS ON MONEY:

Nonfiction THE END OF MONEY by David Wolman
by David Wolman
Nonfiction THE BEHAVIOR GAP by Carl Richards
by Carl Richards
Nonfiction BORROW by Louis Hyman
by Louis Hyman
Nonfiction CURRENCY WARS by James Rickards
by James Rickards

MORE BY H.W. BRANDS

NonfictionTHE MAN WHO SAVED THE UNION by H.W. Brands
by H.W. Brands
NonfictionTHE HEARTBREAK OF AARON BURR by H.W. Brands
by H.W. Brands

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionTHE BIOGRAPHY OF A DOLLAR by Craig Karmin
by Craig Karmin
NonfictionHOW MARKETS FAIL by John Cassidy
by John Cassidy
NonfictionFOLLOW THE MONEY by Steve Boggan
by Steve Boggan