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Michael Grunwald… this breezy little book provides an elegant overview of America's early financial battles, and a strong argument that they drove the nation's development. It may sound vaguely Marxist or at least unromantic to view U.S. history through the lens of liquidity; disputes over public debt, the national bank and the gold standard don't sound as dramatic as Washington crossing the Delaware or Lincoln freeing the slaves. But Brands helps the medicine go down by weaving his narrative around five compelling characters: Alexander Hamilton, the treasury secretary who promoted national debt and a national bank; Nicholas Biddle, the national bank president who lost an epic battle to stop Andrew Jackson from killing his powerful institution; and three private financiers -- Jay Cooke, who financed the Union's Civil War effort with his innovative bond schemes; Jay Gould, who nearly ruined the economy by cornering the gold market; and J.P. Morgan, who encouraged collusion among the great industrial trusts and bailed out the treasury when it ran low on gold.
— The Washington POst