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Readers Reviews of THE POWER OF GOLD

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This is anecdotal history and a good read. The book tries to establish the important difference between gold as wealth and gold as money. His general conclusion is that gold now remains as a sign of wealth, but it has little relevance as money, or as backing for money. This is despite spending most of the book discussing how gold has been used as a base for international and domestic exchange since ancient times.

Rationally he shows how gold is no longer necessary as an underpinning of value and he exalts in the way the US dollar has taken over this role. His observation in the closing pages that the role of the US Dollar is just as symbolic as the role of gold is quickly made and not explored in detail. This is an omission as a constant thread in the book is the idea of the symbolic nature of gold as the basis of money and monetary systems. A loss of faith in the basis of the system destroys the system, so the assumption that the US dollar will remain dominant is flawed.

 

Emotionally he fails to show the reasons for the lure and power of gold as he is too ready to impose modern fiscal morality and ethics on the actions of the past, and the distant past. Ascribing our emotions to quite different, and ancient societies, makes for poor history and flawed analysis.

 

Bernstein never quite pulls it all together so the book remains a collection of interesting anecdotes and observations that is not quite a history of gold and not quite a history of money – and yet the two are inseparable.

 

Despite this the book is an engaging read.

 

 

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