book cover of Greenback


The Almighty Dollar and the Invention of America
A non fiction book by

The fascinating story of a new kind of money for a new world.
Money has always been at the heart of the American experience. Paper money, invented in Boston in 1698, was a classic of American ingenuity - and American disregard for authority and tradition. With the wry and admiring eye of a modern Tocqueville, Jason Goodwin's biography of the dollar gives us the story of its astonishing career through the wilds of American history.
Looking at the dollar as a form of art, a kind of advertising, a reflection of American attitudes, and a builder of empires, Goodwin shows us how the dollar rolled out the frontier and peopled the Plains; how it erected the great cities; how it expressed the urges of democracy and opportunity. And, above all, Goodwin introduces us to the people who championed - or ambushed - the dollar over the years: presidents, artists, pioneers, and frontiersmen; bankers, shady and upright; safecrackers, crooks, and dreamers of every stripe. It's a vast and colorful cast of characters, who all agreed on one thing: getting the money right was the key to unlocking liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Greenback delves into folklore and the development of printing, investigates wildcats and counterfeiters, explains why a buck is a buck and how Dixie got its name. Like Goodwin's Lords of the Horizons, another story of empire, Greenback brings together an array of quirky detail and surprising - often hilarious - anecdote to tell the story of America through its best-beloved product.
Americans experimented with money as no other nation ever had the chance to: wampum, paper currency, private bank notes, gold and silver, government money, bank money. On the way people learned to strike a deal, fix a price, watch their interests. They learned how to conjure money not out of the thin air exactly, but out of the natural riches of the land and the ingenuity of their own minds, and fell to arguing how much, relatively speaking, it was worth. Settling that dispute, over the years, has defined them as a nation.
Surprising, speculative, informative and amusing, GREENBACK is the biography of the world's most powerful currency.
"The story of the dollar is the story of the country's independence and emergence - and it couldn't have been told more engagingly." The Guardian.
"His engaging 'Greenback' ... approaches the empire of the dollar with a foreigner's sense of wonder and a dry wit." The New York Times.
"Splendidly entertaining, fast-paced, and revelatory. . . Goodwin, who possesses the gift of concision and an impious eye for character, is a master at weaving together monetary theory and historical anecdote." -- The Boston Globe
"A fanciful and charming meditation on money and the role it plays in our society, history, and culture. . .[Written] with flair, anecdote, and amusing aside.. . . A beguiling narrative." -- Chicago Tribune
"[With] tidbits and tales that read more like novels. . . Greenback is a giddy ride into the past." -- Barron's
"A riveting story with a quirky cast of American characters that includes a few of the Founding Fathers, inventors, counterfeiters, secret agents, bankers, and swindlers." -- The Christian Science Monitor
As featured on BBC Radio 4.

Used availability for Jason Goodwin's Greenback

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