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Currency Wars: How Forged Money is the New Weapon of Mass Destruction

Overview


The world's quietest weapon of mass destruction is 75 percent cotton, 25 percent linen, and 100 percent fake. The amount of counterfeit money in circulation is unknown, but hundreds of millions of bogus U.S. dollars are seized each year. Mass counterfeiting is not just organized crime, it can also be aggressive economic warfare waged by states to destabilize enemy governments, and it is reaching epidemic proportions. Forgery provides cash for states like North Korea and Iran in their pursuit of weapons—a fact ...
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Overview


The world's quietest weapon of mass destruction is 75 percent cotton, 25 percent linen, and 100 percent fake. The amount of counterfeit money in circulation is unknown, but hundreds of millions of bogus U.S. dollars are seized each year. Mass counterfeiting is not just organized crime, it can also be aggressive economic warfare waged by states to destabilize enemy governments, and it is reaching epidemic proportions. Forgery provides cash for states like North Korea and Iran in their pursuit of weapons—a fact publicly unacknowledged, even as fears grow over their nuclear ambitions. In Currency Wars, John Cooley maps this dirty matrix of war and politics, sabotage and subterfuge, with new evidence and recently disclosed documents. With sound grounding in current affairs and history alike, Cooley demonstrates that the machinations of today's states echo attempts in antiquity by Persia, Greece, Rome, and China to use and defend against forgery and currency debasement. Counterfeiting remained a high crime throughout medieval and Renaissance Europe; played a key role in the American and French Revolutions; and was used by the British, Germans, and Soviets in two World Wars. Bad money mixed with post-war dictatorships, and was a tool of the KGB, CIA, Stasi, Hezbollah, the Medellín cartels, and the Chinese Triads. This compelling, accessible account reveals grand-scale forgery's corrosive implications for global economic, political, and social stability. It is essential reading for anyone concerned with the complications and consequences of increasing and inevitable globalization, and it serves as a provocative reminder of the ways in which human greed and fear act as catalysts in world economics.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Journalist Cooley (Unholy Wars) passionately inveighs against counterfeit money in this lively and well-researched-if occasionally overheated-exposé. Cooley delivers an entertaining history of debased currency, whose origins date back to the third millennium B.C. and has a long history as a weapon of war. Cooley recounts British counterfeiting aimed at destabilizing the American colonies and the 1860s Union effort to spread fake Confederate dollars which contributed to wild inflation in the South. Nazis notoriously used Jewish concentration camp inmates to counterfeit massive quantities of dollars and sterling (depicted in the Oscar-winning Austrian film The Counterfeiters), and Cooley paints a vivid picture of the economic catastrophe this might have caused had all the forgeries been put into circulation. A disturbing recent development has been the flood of "supernotes," superbly forged $100 bills pouring into circulation for 20 years, most likely from North Korea or Iran. Since 1995, the U.S. has redesigned its currency to foil counterfeiters, but the notes continue to appear. According to Cooley, the media prefers to cover more spectacular crimes such as terrorism, although counterfeiting causes greater economic damage; this compelling account illuminates this neglected issue, and readers will not be disappointed. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781602392700
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,006,880
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 6.60 (d)

Meet the Author

John Cooley has worked as a translator and military-intelligence analyst and as a newspaper and television journalist. He served as a staff correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor and ABC News. He is the author of Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America, and International Terrorism. He lives in England.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements     vii
List of illustrations     ix
Introduction     xi
Royal Charm, Smoking Dragon     1
Middle East Dimensions     21
Eastern Forgers, Western Helpers     39
The Ancient Black Art of Money Forgery     55
Benjamin Franklin versus King George: America's Financial Birth Pangs     69
Soft versus Hard Money: Revolution and Consequences     99
Drivin' Old Dixie Down: The American Civil War and the Birth of the Greenback     113
Britain's Goal: Undermine the Kaiser's Economy     145
Forgers, Fraudsters and Fascists: The Weimar Years     165
Portugal: Clever Crook Empowers Durable Dictator     189
Stalin's Dollars: Biting the Hand That Feeds You     215
Hitler's Counterfeit Campaign: The Lessons of the Second World War     243
Covert Action versus Stabilization: From Vietnam to Iraq     277
Notes     315
Bibliography     329
Index     341

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