The Money Plot: A History of Currency’s Power to Enchant, Control, and Manipulate

Frederick Kaufman. Other Press, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59051-718-5
CUNY English professor Kaufman (Bet the Farm) examines human beings’ relationship to money in this fascinating yet somewhat muddled chronicle. His survey ranges from a 65,000-year-old Kenyan bead used to avert evil and bolster good fortune to a volatility index created in 1993 as a measure of investors’ trepidation. Less interested in economic principles than in money as symbol, Kaufman details the history of the “trophy wife” from wife auctions in 17th-century England (famously immortalized in Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge) to Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith’s absence from her late husband’s will. (“Who leaves property to property?” Kaufman asks, tongue in cheek.) Kaufman also touches on the “prosperity theology” of Oral Roberts, the war between fiat and gold-backed currency, and the relationship between Spain’s 17th-century economic collapse and Don Quixote. Though he doesn’t offer a cohesive treatment of money’s evolution over the centuries, Kaufman has a sharp eye for colorful anecdotes and a witty and incisive prose style. The result is an appealing compendium of musings and money-related minutiae. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/07/2020
Release date: 11/24/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-1-59051-719-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-7135-6249-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-7135-6248-1
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