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Printing Presses and Wheelbarrows

When Money Dies”

by Adam Ferguson

1975, updated 2010

At the end of the Great War, Germany experienced the worst financial inflation in history. We've all seen the vintage photographs of people standing in line to buy a loaf of bread, while pushing wheelbarrows loaded with piles of paper money. It was a crisis that would lead to starvation, potential government upheaval, unemployment, and the eventual rise of the most evil Right Wing dictatorship in history.

It's a fascinating story, but this book was not an easy read. The subject is potentially gripping on a human level, and at times it is when Ferguson drops in quotes from people who lived through the catastrophic inflation of the Weimar Republic.

Unfortunately, most of the book is written by Ferguson, whose voice is dry in the extreme. He's an economist and he likes numbers. He throws them out on most every page, until they become a blur.

He also has a bad habit of dropping in the names of people, places, government agencies, and financial institutions, without a word of explanation as to who or what they are. To understand the book, you need to be an expert on the Weimar Republic. But if I was already an expert on the subject, why would I read this book?

Be prepared to look up dozens of references—or guess at their meaning.

2 stars. 4 if you're an economist or a masochist.


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