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The Power of Gold

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Table of Contents

Prologue: The Supreme Possession. A METAL FOR ALL SEASONS. Get Gold at All Hazards. Midas's Wish and the Creatures of Pure Chance. Darius's Bathtub and the Cackling of the Geese. The Symbol and the Faith. Gold, Salt, and the Blessed Town. The Legacy of Eoba, Babba, and Udd. The Great Chain Reaction. The Disintegrating Age and the King's Ransoms. The Sacred Thirst. THE PATH TO TRIUMPH. The Fatal Poison and Private Money. The Asian Necropolis and Hien Tsung's Inadvertent Innovation. The Great Recoinage and the Last of the Magicians. The True Doctrine and the Great Evil. The New Mistress and the Cursed Discovery. The Badge of Honor. The Most Stupendous Conspiracy and the Endless Chain. THE DESCENT FROM GLORY. The Norman Conquest. The End of the Epoch. The Transcending Value. World War Eight and the Thirty Ounces of Gold. Epilogue: The Supreme Possession? Notes. Bibliography. Index.

About the Author

PETER L. BERNSTEIN combines the zest of a historian with the meticulous analytical powers of an economist. He is the author of seven other books on economics and finance, including the bestsellers Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk and Capital Ideas: The Improbable Origins of Modern Wall Street. Bernstein is President of Peter L. Bernstein, Inc. He established the firm in 1973 as economic consultants to institutional investors and publisher of Economics & Portfolio Strategy, a semi-monthly newsletter. He lectures widely throughout the United States and abroad and has received the highest honors from his peers in the investment profession.


"[T]he quest for gold" has been "gluttonous," says Bernstein, tracing the metal's impact on human myth and history: gold has inspired art, battles, conquests and discoveries, including Columbus's trip to the New World, where he hoped to secure enough gold to buy back the Holy Sepulcher from the Muslims. Bernstein makes clear the metal's virtues: it's so malleable that one ounce can be stretched into a 50-foot wire or pounded into 100 square feet, and it lasts forever (4,500-year-old Egyptian dental work, he notes, is good enough for today's mouths). Bernstein's gift for storytellingÄwith just the right touch of acerbic wit (on the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece, he summarizes, "The story does not have a happy ending, because Jason was a compulsive social climber")Äand his presentation of the paradox of how and why such a soft and simple metal has been afforded such value help make this work a winning account of human obsession, comprehensive, entertaining and enlightening. A knowledge of economics might help during the last third of the book, when Bernstein moves from ancient times to modern day and describes the economic chaos that followed WWI. By then gold was no longer the domain of legend; it had become a commodity, the standard against which powerful nations measure their wealth. But Bernstein, author of the bestselling Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk, livens up his intricate economic discussion with tales such as the one about the Harvard Business School professor who got into trouble with his dean for withdrawing his gold from the Harvard Trust Company during a gold standard-related panic in 1933. As the title promises, Bernstein does deliver a page-turning history of the not-so-heavy metal and its influence on people through the ages. $250,000 ad/promo; first serial to Worth. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"...It is a gripping work that conbines many strands of history, politcs and finance into a book of universal appeal." (Business Monthly, September 2001)

A master historian at the peak of his art here recounts the timeless story of our obsession with gold. Mixing myth, legend, and historical fact, Bernstein (Against the Gods presents an enthralling look at the people, places, and events that have evoked desperation and frustration in human behavior. Starting with a broad palette of colorful characters, Pharaoh Hatshepsut, King Midas, Alexander the Great, Emperor Justinian, the Inca Emperor Atahualpa, Martin Luther, Kublai Khan, Sir Isaac Newton, and Charles De Gaulle, the author recounts the sequence of events that led to gold becoming the international monetary standard in the 19th Century only to fall to obscurity amid the collapse of the Bretton Woods System in 1971. At its root, this is the story of people so blinded in their pursuit of gold that they could not comprehend the difference between useless metal and real wealth. Recommended for both public and academic libraries.

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