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The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession, 2nd Edition


Praise For The Power of Gold

"Mr. Bernstein has turned this story--not an obvious golden opportunity for even a writer of Mr. Bernstein's skill--into a real page-turner."
--The Wall Street Journal

"Bernstein . . . does full justice to his material. Almost every chapter contains some detail to surprise or delight. "
--Financial Times

"There are sugarplums throughout the book. . . .The pleasure of the bookis in its sheer number of unknown places and interesting episodes."
--The New York Times

"Bernstein's volume is a tour de force with a satisfying conclusion: The charactersin this drama prove themselves 'fools for gold, chasing an illusion.'"
--Business Week

"Admirably written . . . a wonderfully interesting view--not alone of gold but of thegreater economic history. Like other of his work, it is assured of a wide readership."
--John Kenneth Galbraith, Professor of Economics Emeritus, Harvard University

"The triumph of Peter Bernstein's book is that in the end you understand why and how it happened that the golden dog no longer barks. "
--The Boston Globe

"The range of research evident throughout the book is staggering. . . . Bernstein's ear for the telling quote is pitch perfect."
--USA Today

The late Peter L. Bernstein was President of Peter L. Bernstein, Inc., an economic consulting firm for institutional investors he founded in 1973, after many years of managing billions of dollars in individual and institutional portfolios. Bernstein was also the author of ten books on economics and finance, including the bestselling Capital Ideas, Capital Ideas Evolving, and Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk. His writing combines the zest of a historian with the meticulous analytical powers of an economist.

Foreword ix

Acknowledgments xiii

PROLOGUE: The Supreme Possession 1


1. Get Gold at All Hazards 9

2. Midas’s Wish and the Creatures of Pure Chance 18

3. Darius’s Bathtub and the Cackling of the Geese 38

4. The Symbol and the Faith 52

5. Gold, Salt, and the Blessed Town 66

6. The Legacy of Eoba, Babba, and Udd 74

7. The Great Chain Reaction 85

8. The Disintegrating Age and the Kings’ Ransoms 96

9. The Sacred Thirst 114


10. The Fatal Poison and Private Money 135

11. The Asian Necropolis and Hien Tsung’s Inadvertent Innovation 158

12. The Great Recoinage and the Last of the Magicians 175

13. The True Doctrine and the Great Evil 198

14. The New Mistress and the Cursed Discovery 219

15. The Badge of Honor 239

16. The Most Stupendous Conspiracy and the Endless Chain 260


17. The Norman Conquest 283

18. The End of the Epoch 306

19. The Transcending Value 328

20. World War Eight and the Thirty Ounces of Gold 346

EPILOGUE: The Supreme Possession? 367

Notes 373

Bibliography 397

Index 409