Announcing our Top 20 Books of 2022

War and Gold: Book summary and reviews of War and Gold by Kwasi Kwarteng

War and Gold

A Five-Hundred-Year History of Empires, Adventures, and Debt

by Kwasi Kwarteng

War and Gold by Kwasi Kwarteng X
War and Gold by Kwasi Kwarteng
Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

War and Gold tells the history of money. It illustrates in rich historical detail how governments' desire to accumulate and conquer must be funded by debt. The risk is always that the treasure may not pay back the cost of the adventure. The story begins with 16th century Spain, the most extreme example of a western colonial power in the 16th century ruthless in its chase to discover as much gold as possible and, ultimately, financially gutted from having to wield a global war to in an effort to hold on to their trade routes with the El Dorado's of the New World.

The gold standard, first made possible by the influx of silver and gold in Europe from returning Spanish conquistadors, would commonly be suspended during times of war. Cheaper standards, like paper, would be introduced as a means of wartime financing. Like the French in the Revolutionary Wars, like the British against Napoleon, and following their own example against the British in the 1770s, the Civil War Union government issued paper money to defeat an enemy. With war, often comes the devaluation of national currencies.

Itself a long-time symbol of permanence and immutability, the gold standard was actually developed after the relative chaos of the paper currencies of the American and French Revolutions, and the suspension of gold payments by the Bank of England. It seemed a simple, almost natural idea, an expression of the 'spontaneous order' of the free market system. And despite these chaotic origins, the gold standard would come to symbolize stability in the world. Kwarteng argues that the dissolution of the gold standard in much of Europe at the dawn of World War I spurred the rise of a dominant American economy - the only national market in which gold convertibility was still honored at the time. Ironically, the resulting command of the American dollar would spark its ascension over gold as the new global monetary standard in 1976, a standard that fell, with the U.S. economy, in 2008 when, once more, the world unofficially turned back to gold.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. [T]horoughly satisfying and remarkably accessible...While John Kenneth Galbraith's 1975 Money: Whence it Came, Where It Went remains the subject's touchstone, Kwarteng superbly brings that volume up to date in explaining the almost unexplainable." - Publishers Weekly

This information about War and Gold was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Kwasi Kwarteng

Kwasi Kwarteng was born in London to Ghanaian parents in 1975. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he won one of the University Classical Scholarships and graduated with a double first in Classics and History; and at Harvard University, where he spent a year as a Kennedy Scholar. He returned to Cambridge to complete a Ph.D in History, before working as an analyst for a hedge fund in London. He was recently elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament. Kwarteng lives in London, UK.

More Author Information

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more history, current affairs and religion...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join and Save 20%!

Become a member and
discover exceptional books.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    Bewilderment
    by Richard Powers
    In 2019, Richard Powers won the Pulitzer Prize for The Overstory, a sprawling novel whose characters...
  • Book Jacket: I'm the Girl
    I'm the Girl
    by Courtney Summers
    YA author Courtney Summers doesn't believe in shielding her teenage readers from the world's darkest...
  • Book Jacket: They're Going to Love You
    They're Going to Love You
    by Meg Howrey
    Teenage Carlisle lives with her mother in Ohio, but their relationship has never felt particularly ...
  • Book Jacket: The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
    The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
    by Isaac Blum
    That irreplaceable feeling of everyone knowing your name. The yearning to be anonymous. Parents ...

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Our Missing Hearts
    by Celeste Ng

    From the author of Little Fires Everywhere, a new novel about a mother’s unbreakable love in a world consumed by fear.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

W N, W Not

and be entered to win..

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Honor
by Thrity Umrigar
Set in India, a tender and evocative novel about love across a cultural divide, familial devotion and betrayal.
Who Said...

In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.