Tower of Basel: The Shadowy History of the Secret Bank that Runs the Worldby Adam LeBor
Tower of Basel is the first investigative history of the world’s most secretive global financial institution. Based on extensive archival research in Switzerland, Britain, and the United States, and in-depth interviews with key decision-makersincluding Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve; Sir Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England; and former senior Bank for International Settlements managers and officialsTower of Basel tells the inside story of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS): the central bankers’ own bank.
Created by the governors of the Bank of England and the Reichsbank in 1930, and protected by an international treaty, the BIS and its assets are legally beyond the reach of any government or jurisdiction. The bank is untouchable. Swiss authorities have no jurisdiction over the bank or its premises. The BIS has just 140 customers but made tax-free profits of $1.17 billion in 20112012.
Since its creation, the bank has been at the heart of global events but has often gone unnoticed. Under Thomas McKittrick, the bank’s American president from 19401946, the BIS was open for business throughout the Second World War. The BIS accepted looted Nazi gold, conducted foreign exchange deals for the Reichsbank, and was used by both the Allies and the Axis powers as a secret contact point to keep the channels of international finance open.
After 1945 the BISstill behind the scenesfor decades provided the necessary technical and administrative support for the trans-European currency project, from the first attempts to harmonize exchange rates in the late 1940s to the launch of the Euro in 2002. It now stands at the center of efforts to build a new global financial and regulatory architecture, once again proving that it has the power to shape the financial rules of our world. Yet despite its pivotal role in the financial and political history of the last century and during the economic current crisis, the BIS has remained largely unknownuntil now.
Wall Street Journal
“Adam LeBor's Tower of Basel: The Shadowy History of the Secret Bank That Runs the World makes a strident case for challenging these financial shamans [central bankers] ... Mr. LeBor's polemical tone makes his book compelling ... It's a very ugly picture, and Mr. LeBor has painted it well.”
Edward Lucas, author of Deception: The Untold Story of East-West Espionage Today“Tower of Basel is essential reading. Meticulously researched and fluently written, it reveals a slice of the modern world’s untold historya gripping tale of covert networks, secret deals and unaccountable, powerful individuals whose decisions shape our lives.”
Liaquat Ahamed, author of Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World“Adam LeBor has written an absolutely fascinating history of the BIS, perhaps the most enigmatic financial institution in the world. The story he unveils of the many skeletons in its closet and its astounding ability to remake itself periodically only add to its mystique.”
Harold James, professor of history and international affairs, Princeton University, and author of Making the European Monetary Union
“Compelling readinga masterly depiction of the role of the BIS in the Nazi period and Second World War.”
“It’s a story of financial intrigue, secrets and lies, rumor and truth. LeBor, a business journalist (he’s also the author of several thrillers), knows how to make a true story about finance as thrilling as any spy novel. A highly entertaining and informative book about the most powerful bank you’ve probably never heard of.”
Reuters Breaking Views
“An absorbing and thorough examination of one of the world’s most important yet opaque institutions”
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Meet the Author
Adam LeBor is an author, journalist, and literary critic based in Budapest. He writes for The Economist, The Times (London), Monocle, and numerous other publications, and also reviews books for the New York Times. He has been a foreign correspondent since 1991, covering the collapse of communism and the Yugoslav wars, and has worked in more than thirty countries. He is the author of seven critically acclaimed nonfiction books, including the ground-breaking Hitler’s Secret Bankers, and two novels. His books have been published in twelve languages.
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A well researched & well written and book on a bank you never heard that has had great influence over our lives for generations. This bank financed Hitler's industrialization of Nazi Germany during the 1930s and his plunder of European gold during the war. Many Nazi war criminals went on to run the bank after the war and lead Europe out of economic starvation. The bank is even stronger today. If you love history you will love this book. Five stars.
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