THE GREAT SWINDLE: The Story of the South Sea Bubble by Virginia Cowles

THE GREAT SWINDLE: The Story of the South Sea Bubble

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KIRKUS REVIEW

One angle on this story comes into A.L. Rowse's brilliant, family portrait of the Churchills, for the Duke of Marlborough and his ebullient wife, Sarah, were figures on the scene at the time. Another angle- concentrating on the French debacle, is treated is biographical fiction, by Thomas Costain, in The Moneyman, his name for John Law, who sparked the whole period of speculation and financial intrigue. Virginia Cowles, whose Gay Monarch was a popular biography of Edward VII, has done a serious and scholarly study specifically concentrated on the financial swindle in all its ramifications, rather than on a portrait of the times. One takes credit so for granted today that it comes as a surprise that credit was a novel idea in the 18th Century. Here, in minute detail, both the Mississippi Bubble (in France) and the South Sea Bubble (in England) are charted, as speculators and manipulators sold the public from the royal house down on a new way to absorb the gigantic national debts. That the promised dividends were to come out of non-existent resources and funds --backed by the presumed integrity of those who launched the scheme -- was branded by Robert Walpole as ""evil of the first magnitude"". Here was the initial ""stock market swindle"" in history, which spread to the launching of lesser swindles and highlighted the depravity of the age.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1960
Publisher: Harper