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Extended Audio Sample The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World Audiobook, by Niall Ferguson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (6,349 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Niall Ferguson Narrator: Simon Prebble Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2008 ISBN: 9781400180332
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Bread, cash, dough, loot, moolah, readies, the wherewithal: Call it what you like, it matters. To Christians, love of it is the root of all evil. To generals, it's the sinews of war. To revolutionaries, it's the chains of labor. But in The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson shows that finance is, in fact, the foundation of human progress. What's more, he reveals financial history as the essential back story behind all history. Through Ferguson's expert lens, familiar historical landmarks appear in a new and sharper financial focus. Suddenly, the civilization of the Renaissance looks very different: a boom in the market for art and architecture made possible when Italian bankers adopted Arabic mathematics. The rise of the Dutch republic is reinterpreted as the triumph of the world's first modern bond market over insolvent Habsburg absolutism. And the origins of the French Revolution are traced back to a stock market bubble caused by a convicted Scot murderer. With the clarity and verve for which he is known, Ferguson elucidates key financial institutions and concepts by showing where they came from. What is money? What do banks do? What's the difference between a stock and a bond? Why buy insurance or real estate? And what exactly does a hedge fund do? This is history for the present. Ferguson travels to post-Katrina New Orleans to ask why the free market can't provide adequate protection against catastrophe. He also delves into the origins of the subprime mortgage crisis. Perhaps most important, The Ascent of Money documents how a new financial revolution is propelling the world's biggest countries, India and China, from poverty to wealth in the space of a single generation-an economic transformation unprecedented in human history. Yet the central lesson of the financial history is that sooner or later every bubble bursts-sooner or later the bearish sellers outnumber the bullish buyers; and sooner or later greed flips into fear. And that is why, whether you're scraping by or rolling in it, there's never been a better time to understand the ascent of money. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • There is an ease to [Ferguson's] prose that leaves this complicated subject interesting to and approachable by any general [listener]. Booklist Starred Review
  • “It shrewdly anticipates many aspects of the current financial crisis.”

    New York Times

  • “An admirably illuminating book.”

    Washington Post

  • “A timely book that is indispensable [from] one of the greatest historians writing today.”

    Boston Globe

  • “There is an ease to [Ferguson’s] prose that leaves this complicated subject interesting to and approachable by any general reader.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “A timely history of money and finance from the advent of coins to J. P. Morgan Chase’s takeover of Bear Stearns earlier this year.”

    Library Journal

  • “The author is a fluent interpreter…He avoids the aridity of economics without skimping on details, offering lots of bang for the buck.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Henk Deraedt | 2/17/2014

    " Zou verplichte lectuur moeten zijn voor elke bankier, beleggingsadviseur, verzekeraar ... Als je wat verder in de geschiedenis van het geld en bankwezen kijkt zie je steeds dezelfde patronen terug. De kunst is om ze telkens in context te kunnen plaatsen met de maatschappelijke, economische en technologische evoluties. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Shauna | 2/17/2014

    " Actually, I didn't finish. I'm not smart enough to read this book, and was constantly glazing over at financial terms and ideas. I want to understand, but this book was not the vehicle to get me there. And let's face it. I want my non-fiction to read like fiction. This book does not! Probably a very interesting book for someone who already has a handle on finance and economics. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ed Terrell | 2/15/2014

    " I gave this book a three only because the first half was very good. Ferguson then forgot himself and with Milton Friedman in his pocket and the Chicago boys with bats standing behind him attempts to beat us into submission to his particular political views. Separating politics and economics is never easy and we all have a point of view which colors the landscape we paint. After skipping a 100 plus pages in the middle, I finished the book with a sense of uneasiness. Once his cards were on the table, I was unable to be enthralled with his story telling. Like a magician who has told you how his trick works, the wonder was gone. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tomas Bielskis | 2/10/2014

    " More financial than history... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason Clay | 1/11/2014

    " Its a fascinating look at the origins of finance and gives a good background to current financial matters too. Well written and informative even better than the TV series that its based around. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Freyja | 1/10/2014

    " This was an interesting history through the lens of the development of financial markets, but if you are not familiar with financial terminology, as I am not, you will probably flounder a bit with the lack of explanation of concepts like discount rate, etc. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rob | 1/10/2014

    " I would have given this 4 stars, but the interesting and anecdotal chapters describing money, finance, markets, etc. in their early years were blunted by the chapters on the more recent years. The last few chapters aren't much different from what you hear on the news or learned in history class. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emily Wood | 1/5/2014

    " Educational but a little hard to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Yilin | 1/4/2014

    " funny so far. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bev | 1/3/2014

    " Colin bought this and raced through it - thought it very well written so now it is my turn. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Darrell | 12/26/2013

    " This was not a bad book, but I think my expectations were too high, and it let me down. This book talks about basically the history of finance. And it is written like a boring history book. Some of the chapters were great, like the first few and the last, but it just got boring in the middle. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kedarnaik | 12/21/2013

    " a good book but author assumes considerable level of economics understanding for general reader "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Freek DS | 12/10/2013

    " Financial history is interesting, I think, for everyone. Eyebrow-raising circular reasonings have always been widespread in economic theories, but they not did not disturb too much. On the whole, the book is so well-written and addictive that this posed not much of a problem. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Greg | 12/4/2013

    " Great overview of the development of the modern financail system Whre did markets star? Bonds? Just the right amount of detail for the general reader. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Giju Abraham | 9/23/2013

    " Very interesting account on the origin of money. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael | 7/30/2013

    " Provides an interesting briefing on the history of money/markets/etc. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lindsey | 5/18/2012

    " Really good. A very interesting and easy read, with some surprising predictions about the most recent recession. I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in finance or economics. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah | 12/17/2011

    " I would be insulting college students if I said that this book reads like a bunch of undergrad papers strung together. And on top of that, the author is very pleased with himself - apparently he foresaw the latest financial crisis. Really, Niall? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joy | 10/6/2011

    " Took me a while to get through this as I am not into finance but I did enjoy it. Was well written and explained a full history as well as how much of finance works. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 8/7/2011

    " I really enjoyed this book and learned things I never understood about banking. This is a good companion book with New York, the Novel since the history overlaps in places. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 7/19/2011

    " Grudgingly giving four stars instead of three. Overall very interesting, but an over reliance on simplistic cause and effect analysis. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stuart | 5/30/2011

    " Well written and accessible. Good blend of historical sweep & context of market mechanisms with assessment of current global crisis, as of 2008. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael | 5/4/2011

    " Even this simplification of the subject left me shaking my head in confusion at times, but I have a better understanding of monetary systems now. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scott | 4/15/2011

    " The author is a professor and the book reads like a textbook. Still, it offers an interesting perspective as to how money has affected pretty much everything in history forever. Follow the money worked in the 1700's and it works today. Go figure. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 3/22/2011

    " Good historical perspective on the evolution of financial institutions...and impacts (both enabling and destructive) on world events. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sean | 3/6/2011

    " Excellent History. The book is at its best when he explains the history of financial/capital investments. The last few chapters are an analysis of the 2008 financial crisis, which almost seems out of place. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deep | 2/16/2011

    " Excellent history of financial markets, with each of the major markets - banks, stocks, bonds, insurance, real estate - getting its own chapter. Highly recommended to undergraduate students of economics, and especially for those that wish to pursue careers in finance. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joy | 2/16/2011

    " Took me a while to get through this as I am not into finance but I did enjoy it. Was well written and explained a full history as well as how much of finance works. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Arie | 2/9/2011

    " Good overview. Probably better if it focused on fewer areas. "

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About the Author
Author Niall FergusonNiall Ferguson is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard and a Senior Research Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Great Degeneration, Civilization, The Ascent of Money, and The War of the World.
About the Narrator

Simon Prebble, a British-born performer, is a stage and television actor and veteran narrator of some three hundred audiobooks. As one of AudioFile’s Golden Voices, he has received over twenty Earphones Awards and won the prestigious Audie in 2010. He lives in New York.