A lively, enlightening introduction to monetary history from the libertarian economist whose contributions to the quantity theory of money earned him a Nobel Prize in 1976. Starting from the premise that no society or individual is unaffected by monetary policy (which centers on control of a nation's money supply), Friedman (co-author, Tyranny of the Status Quo, 1984, etc.) offers a quick and simplified briefing on monetary theory that stresses, among other matters, one of his favorite themes--that ""inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon."" His stage set, Friedman ranges widely over time and place in demonstrating that there invariably is more than meets the eye to monetary events. He recounts, for example, how an 1873 coinage law had unintended consequences for American politics and economics over the next couple of decades. The author moves on to link the 1887 invention in Scotland of a process to extract gold from low-grade South African ore to the frustration of William Jennings Bryan's presidential aspirations in 1896 and beyond, moving smoothly into an accessible discussion of bimetallism. Friedman also makes a plausible case for the proposition that FDR's silver-purchase program during the 1930's hastened the Communist takeover of mainland China after WW II. Covered as well (in a prescriptive anti-Keynesian context) are upward price spirals down through the ages, the collapse of the Bretton Woods accord, fiat money, specie, the European Monetary System, and efforts by Third World countries to peg their currencies to the US dollar. Informed and informative perspectives from monetarism's most articulate apostle.