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William GrimesMr. Stark has a vigorous prose style and a gift for clear explanation. The pace is swift, and the narrative thrilling, as he describes the evolution of northern Italian city-states and the great Italian banks that helped accelerate capitalism's rise in Flanders and England. The banks not only lent money; they also engaged in trade and manufacturing, often reorganizing and managing entire industries, like wool-making. Their abacus schools, where students learned accounting, were the original M.B.A. programs.
— The New York Times