Greenback: The Almighty Dollar and the Invention of America

Greenback: The Almighty Dollar and the Invention of America

by Jason Goodwin

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Overview

Greenback: The Almighty Dollar and the Invention of America by Jason Goodwin

From the author of Lords of the Horizons, the

fascinating story of a new kind of money for a

new world

Money has always been at the heart of the American experience. Paper money, invented in Boston in 1698, was a classic of American ingenuity-and American disregard for authority and tradition. With the wry and admiring eye of a modern Tocqueville, Jason Goodwin has written a biography of the dollar, giving us the story of its astonishing career through the wilds of American history.

Greenback looks at the dollar over the years as a form of art, a kind of advertising, a reflection of American attitudes, and a builder of empires. Goodwin shows us how the dollar rolled out the frontier and peopled the Plains; how it erected the great cities; how it expressed the urges of democracy and opportunity. And, above all, Goodwin introduces us to the people who championed-or ambushed-the dollar over the years: presidents, artists, pioneers, and frontiersmen; bankers, shady and upright; safecrackers, crooks, and dreamers of every stripe. It's a vast and colorful cast of characters, who all agreed on one thing: getting the money right was the key to unlocking liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Greenback delves into folklore and the development of printing, investigates wildcats and counterfeiters, explains why a buck is a buck and how Dixie got its name. Like Goodwin's Lords of the Horizons, another story of empire, Greenback brings together an array of quirky detail and surprising-often hilarious-anecdote to tell the story of America through its best-beloved product.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312422127
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 01/01/2004
Edition description: REV
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 5.32(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.87(d)

About the Author

Jason Goodwin's previous titles include Lords of the Horizons, On Foot to the Golden Horn, and A Time for Tea. He lives in England.

Read an Excerpt

Most people find that what they really like about money is more of it, but only Americans started with a clean slate and a belief that if only they could hit on the right formula their dreams would come true. They experimented with money as no other nation ever had the chance to: wampum, paper currency, private bank notes, gold and silver, government money, bank money. On the way, the people learned to strike a deal, fix a price, watch their interests. They learned how to conjure money not out of the thin air exactly, but out of the natural riches of the land and the ingenuity of their own minds, and fell to arguing how much, relatively speaking, it was worth.

Settling that dispute, over the years, defined them as a nation.

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