The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession

The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession

by Peter L. Bernstein, Paul A. Volcker
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The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession by Peter L. Bernstein

"The need for realism in reform of its monetary system is what makes Bernstein’s story of the Power of Gold so timely. It is a compelling reminder that maintaining a fixed price for gold and fixed exchange rates were difficult even in a simpler financial environment….Peter Bernstein was reluctant to project the story of gold into the future. But to me his message was clear. Yes, gold will be with us, valued not only for its intrinsic qualities but as a last refuge and store of value in turbulent times. But its days as money, as a means of payment and a fixed unit of account are gone."
From the New Foreword by Paul Volcker

This bestselling book reveals a record of human nature in the ubiquity of gold with a new foreword by Paul Volcker

In this exciting book, the late Peter L. Bernstein tells the story of history's most coveted, celebrated, and inglorious asset: gold. From the ancient fascinations of Moses and Midas through the modern convulsions caused by the gold standard and its aftermath, gold has led many of its most eager and proud possessors to a bad end. And while the same cycle of obsession and desperation may reverberate in today's fast-moving, electronically-driven markets, the role of gold in shaping human history is the striking feature of this tumultuous tale. Such is the power of gold.

Whether it is Egyptian pharaohs with depraved tastes, the luxury-mad survivors of the Black Death, the Chinese inventor of paper money, the pirates on the Spanish Main, or the hardnosed believers in the international gold standard, gold has been the supreme possession. It has been an icon for greed and an emblem of rectitude, as well as a vehicle for vanity and a badge of power that has shaped the destiny of humanity through the ages.

  • Discusses the beginnings of gold as something with magical, religious, and artistic qualities and follows its trail as we progress to the invention of coinage, the transformation of gold into money, and the gold standard
  • Other bestselling books by the late Peter Bernstein: Against the Gods, Capital Ideas, and Capital Ideas Evolving
  • Contemplates gold from the diverse perspectives of monarchs and moneyers, potentates and politicians, men of legendary wealth and others of more plebeian beginnings

Far more than a tale of romantic myths, daring explorations, and the history of money and power struggles, The Power of Gold suggests that the true significance of this infamous element may lie in the timeless passions it continues to evoke, and what this reveals about ourselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781118282694
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 03/12/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 611,091
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

The late Peter L. Bernstein was President of Peter L. Bernstein, Inc., an economic consulting firm for institutional investors he founded in 1973, after many years of managing billions of dollars in individual and institutional portfolios. Bernstein was also the author of ten books on economics and finance, including the bestselling Capital Ideas, Capital Ideas Evolving, and Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk. His writing combines the zest of a historian with the meticulous analytical powers of an economist.

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The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel was an interesting view on how gold was used and how it affected people over time. I think it is interesting how Bernstein views gold as an intoxicating material that causes many problems. Even thoughit causes many problems it also was very beneficial. I think Bernstein did a very good job of backing up his point of view with historical facts. Bernstien was an ecinomic historian, so to know the veiws of gold from a person who knows a lot about the economy is very interesting. Knowing that gold was something of great value back then, as well as now, is something in didnt know. As well as this novel being very informative, it was very eye opening. I learned a lot from Bernstein. I learned that gold was just as important now as it was in biblical times. I also learned that gold is a substance that can't be created or destroyed, so there is a limited amount available. This information enlightened me on the reason gold was so desireable and so interesting to people. I think Bernstien did a fantastic job on getting his point accross on the way gold effects us, as well as giving actual facts on the history of gold.
Simon0 More than 1 year ago
This book was an exceptional novel on how the usage of gold throughout history affected the minds and mindsets of mankind. It voices how different cultures reacted to the presence and the power that was vested within gold. Although the majority of people think of gold as something that is valuable, but just a normal metal, this book explains how it can cause society to come together, but also cause it to collapse, all throughout different time periods of history. Even today, gold is still something that can make or break our current society. It is something that demonstrates power among leaders, and what pulls traders and merchants together (such as in the Indian Ocean trade routes). One reason I selected this novel was because i have always wondered about what gold was equal to in value as to goods back in ancient times. Although it did not very  much go into depth as to the material value of gold, Bernstein did a remarkable job capturing the reader's attention through stating simple facts such as the psychological value that gold possesses. This book helped me to learn more about history, because coming into this novel, one must have a fairly strong background of world history knowledge. Being in an AP World History class was able to help me prepare to read this novel, likewise, this novel helped me gain more knowledge of world history. Overall, this book is recommended by me as a challenging, yet extremely informative read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author makes an interesting albeit lopsided historical case for the impact of gold on world history and the economy. The author assumes the reader has a fairly good background in history and a bit more of a working knowledge that I've got. Taken all together, it is an interesting book on a topic I never before thought much about.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read many a book about this subject, but this is one, that is really outstanding from the crowd. It gives not only the novice new insights but is also delightfully written and becomes never boring. Treating the subject in a scholarly manner without prejudices, observing a facet of human behaviour without becoming dogmatic. Very highly recommendable, the best since Timothy Green treated the subject.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pure gold is the most malleable and ductile of all the metals. This metal has been known and highly valued from earliest times, not only because of its beauty and resistance to corrosion, but also because gold is easier to work than all other metals. Thus starts the historical exploration of gold throughout the history of man, and its impact on the world at large. Written so that a non-business oriented person can understand it, Peter L. Bernstein's 'The Power of Gold' is an excellent source of information on this ever sought after metal that even at the writing of this review, its translucent glow still has the power to attract many buyers during this December holiday season. Each page gives an illustrative history on the impact gold has exhibited on people and governments throughout the world. Peter L. Bernstein writes in a style that will not put the reader to sleep. 'The Power of Gold' is scholarly, yet practical and easy to read. Bernstein shows how gold has changed the world by spanning the centuries and continents and illustrating its impact that is even to this day is felt. And while many people today may have that same obsession and desperation in today's e-world of business and consumer information technologies, the role of gold in shaping human history is the striking feature of this fascinating book. It begs the question, what is the ultimate power of gold? And why the timeless appeal and enormous impact held by this one element?