Niall Ferguson con The Cash Nexus: Money and Politics in Modern History, 1700-2000
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The idea that money makes the world go round has become so ingrained in popular consciousness that it has almost acquired the status of eternal truth. Which is possibly by why it has escaped close examination. Until now. And as Niall Ferguson's The Cash Nexus makes clear it is one that doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. That there is a link between money and politics is unarguable. In the early 1700s, when governments discovered the black art of servicing debt through bond issues and a central bank, they unlocked the doors to warfare and empire building on a grand scale, and the ability to raise money has remained integral to domestic and international politics ever since. The question that Ferguson asks is whether the link always holds good and that, as both Marxist and right-wing historians continue to maintain, all political life is driven by economic forces. Indeed, so entrenched is the belief that governments themselves believe it. Bill Clinton's electioneering slogan, "It's the economy, stupid" has become such a given that the Labour government appear to be using it as the basis for their new campaign. And yet, as Ferguson points out, if you look at the results of recent elections, you see that the axiom carries little weight. If it had, John Major would have been re-elected in 1997 and Al Gore would have swept home in 2000. Similarly, if poor economic performance was a guarantee of electoral disaster, Margaret Thatcher would have been voted out of office in 1983. So politics--or the pursuit of power--do exist as a separate entity. Partly this may be because most people are catastrophically hopeless at assessing their economic self-interest, and partly because people are motivated by forces over and beyond money. Whatever the reason, the consequences for the way we view the world are immense, and as in The Pity of War, where Ferguson challenged some of the conventional wisdoms of the First World War, he takes a provocative pen to many of the accepted norms of the 21st century. Class war is replaced by age war, with the teens losing out; the Americans have been too timid rather than too aggressive in their global policing; and petrol tax revolts are a political inevitability. The Cash Nexus is ambitious, entertaining and thought-provoking. What it isn't is a populist history-lite easy read. Some of the ideas are just too complex to be broadbrushed; but don't give up. --John Crace
". . . makes lively reading out xof how the levying of funds to pay for the armies of medieval autocrats evolved into the brown envelopes of the Inland Revenue." -- Sean Coughlan, Times Higher Education Supplement, 16 February 2001
"...Ferguson brings the vital statistic and the telling quote to bear on the worn and hackneyed understandings of what has formed our age." -- Bill Jamieson, The Scotsman, 3 March 2001
"...Ferguson is attempting to provide not a sufficient explanation of the modern world, but a necessary one." -- John Mulqueen, Irish Times (Dublin), 2 March 2001
"An analysis, shrewd, interesting and stimulatingly clear-sighted, of the way money turns the political and social wheels." -- DH, Nottingham Evening Post, 10 March 2001
"Ferguson combines an ability to make statistics dance... with a prodigious range of literary and historical reference." -- Martin Vander Weyer, Literary Review, February 2001
"Ferguson writes with great force and clarity . . . . It is not often that a history of finance becomes a gripping yarn" -- Martin Daunton, History Today, May 2001
"For Ferguson, the historical process is anything but determinate. Instead, it is chaotic..." -- Paul Tansey, Sunday Tribune, 11 March 2001
"The Cash Nexus is so packed with intriguing arguments and controversial propositions..." -- Frank McLynn, The Independent, 17 February 2001
"The Cash Nexus is something new on the menu." -- Christopher Fildes, Daily Telegraph, 12 February 2001
"What makes Ferguson's history arresting is not so much his revisionism as his urgent recreations of critical junctures in the recent past." -- James Davidson, The Daily Telegraph, 17 February 2001
"a scholarly and controversial work by an author with an impressive sense of history" -- Cal McCrystal, Herald (Glasgow), 17 February 2001
"detailed and probing analysis" -- John Gray, New Statesman, 5 February 2001
Niall Ferguson is one of Britain's most renowned historians. He is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, a Senior Research Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
He is the author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, High Financier, Civilization and The Great Degeneration. His Kissinger, a feature-length film based on his interviews with Henry Kissinger, won the 2011 New York Film Festival prize for best documentary.
His many other prizes and awards include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013).