Wednesday, June 26, 2013

This week at the library..money, Gandhi, and the American revolution



This week at the library, I am in the middle of my Revolutionary War reading, having finally finished the massive biography of Alexander Hamilton. I found it lived up to the recommendation as an antidote to the anti-Hamilton bias of other Revolutionary books I've read. Next in the series is American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic, by Joseph Ellis who I read so much of last year.  After that, if there's time, I'll be reading his take on George Washington, His Excellency. (That's the book title. I'm going to guess it's somewhat sympathetic, but then any biography of Washington written by an American would have to be.)

I just finished off an interlibrary loan book called The History of Money by Jack Weatherford, which is just as it says. It's not nearly as comprehensive as Niall Ferguson's The Ascent of Money, which tracked money and finance from coins to paper to bonds to credit and securities.  Weatherford's work doesn't touch on bonds and securities:  the focus is on  ordinary money, which appeared first as a commodity, became coins, then paper backed by specie, then paper backed by nothing, which he finds alarming, and then completely electronic. It's a bit dated at this point; he offers (in 1997) that while the Internet's online marketplace once deem poised to wreak havoc on conventional merchants, it seems that it will remain catering to niche markets.  After all, you can't download a shirt from your computer! (You can get it on your doorstop within two days, though, and you can download books..)  The author is at his best when commenting on how money effects human culture: at one point he offered an analysis of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, writing that it was a commentary on the debate over gold-backed currency vs. silver-backed currency.  Dorothy, the average American citizen, marches off to fairlyland to confront the sinister financiers, backed by the American farmer (Scarecrow), the American worker (the Tinman), and William Jennings Bryan (the...Cowardly Lion).  

In the post this week I'm expecting the rest of a Star Trek trilogy I began in February (Cold Equations: the Persistence of Memory) but forgot to review (oops). I didn't realize that 'til today, when updating GoodReads and Shelfari (they're almost completely current, save for this week's reading), and noting I couldn't find that Geordi-Soong cover.  It's been too long since I got my Trek on. I'm also expecting Getting There: the Epic Struggle Between Road and Rail in the American Century, since I haven't read any train books recently.

Reviews and/or comments are pending for Jayber Crow and The Story of my Experiments with Truth.

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