A highly readable disentangling of currency’s past and present.

Alvarado, in his debut, offers a detailed study of money and financial concepts through the ages.

In this stimulating, offbeat work of history, the author posits that the manufacture and manipulation of money—and the radically different approaches societies have taken to both those activities—have shaped events in more comprehensive ways than standard histories allow. The author carefully examines ancient cultures, such as those of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Babylon and Phoenicia, and calls their central monetary device of precious metals the “universal glue” of these societies. The artificiality of metal standards, he points out, has been a bone of economic contention throughout history; for example, he quotes U.S. presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan’s 1896 Democratic National Convention speech crying out against a gold standard, which he saw as potentially crucifying mankind upon “a cross of gold.” The gold standard takes a beating from Alvarado as well, who asserts that “the nations of the world have no need of a Wizard of Oz to grant them prosperity.” He writes of the gold mania that gripped Byzantium in the decades prior to its fall in 1453 and insists that “gold became an albatross around the empire’s neck; the single-minded pursuit of coined perfection contributed in great degree to the empire’s demise.” He also rails against the “triumph of prodigious proportions” that allowed international bankers to seek control of currency, “not of one nation, but of all nations at once.” Finally, Alvarado makes a wide-ranging case against the concept of fixed rates of exchange, claiming they ultimately strangle economic growth. The author’s research is vast, and he marshals his facts with considerable skill. Readers with no financial background won’t feel daunted by this history, but they may likely find it informative.

A highly readable disentangling of currency’s past and present.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2013

ISBN: 9789076660257

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Wordbridge Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2013



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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