MixedThe Wall Street JournalMr. Levy is less successful at developing his thesis than he is at announcing it. His haziness on the nomenclature and history of finance is one problem, his want of authorial craft is another. Evelyn Waugh laid it down that a good writer no more wastes words than a master tailor does cloth. Mr. Levy writes as if his publisher were paying him by the sentence ... Even familiar phrases and concepts lose something in the author’s translation ... too numerous pages ... Mr. Levy need not worry about today’s capitalists sitting on their money. Thanks to lawn-level interest rates, limitless public spending and the envy vector of social media, blue-chip stock prices, measured as a percentage of GDP, are higher than they have ever been. Mr. Levy designates this time in finance the Age of Chaos. He could be more right than he knows, but for reasons that he seems not to be entirely aware of.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... vivid ... Opening with sketches of the lives and ideas of such luminaries as Isaac Newton and Edmond Halley (he of comet fame), Mr. Levenson pauses to describe the reform of the English coinage and to ponder the nature of money itself. This last topic could hardly be timelier now that the Federal Reserve is producing more money than even Newton, hyper-efficient warden of the Royal Mint in the late 1600s was equipped to imagine ... Mr. Levenson gives a fine, sympathetic account of the \'disputatious\' Archibald Hutcheson, the Cassandra who saw the crash coming but was mocked for his unwelcome foresight.
MixedThe Wall Street JournalThat someone must exercise dominion over the national economy is the erroneous premise of this story of almost pure good and pure evil. The free play of market forces makes its appearance only as an idea that history had supposedly passed by. Class conflict fills the gap ... Ms. Berfield’s wide-angle lens encompasses antitrust law, the details of railroad reorganization, investment banking, politics, coal mining and high living ... You don’t have to share the author’s dark view of the law of supply and demand to enjoy her prose, and she can do a lot with only a few words ... TR, repulsed by the owners’ \'wooden-headed obstinacy and stupidity,\' couldn’t have deplored his age any more than Ms. Berfield does our own.
William L Silber
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalWilliam Silber’s colorful narrative is one of personalities as much as it is of ideas and events ... Mr. Silber is a fine hand at explaining the mechanics of the bimetallic system as well as the inside details of the modern silver market ... You can’t accuse Mr. Silber of understating the place of silver in world history. Or in the canon of conspiracy ... On the institution of modern currency, Mr. Silber wisely concludes that the jury is still out.
Paul Volcker, Christine Harper
MixedThe Wall Street JournalEngaging and seemingly incredible ... concise ... Investment-minded readers may wish that there were more on the Fed and rather less on Mr. Volcker’s teaching career at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School or his activities at the Trilateral Commission or at the head of commissions to investigate corruption at the World Bank and United Nations ... What the author doesn’t seem to consider is whether an excess of government might be the unmaking of the kind of money he favors, the kind that serves not only as a medium of exchange but also as a store of value ... Humility is one of the charms of both the man and his book.