The distinguished journalist and former British Ambassador to the United States offers an epic history of mankind's quest to invent, trade and make money. . Many have told the story of mankind's evolution, battle for survival, and physical adaptation to a changing world. But equally as exciting as that physical tale is the story of our struggle to satisfy his second imperative (assuming reproduction is the first): the craving, separately and collectively, for material betterment. Now, Peter Jay, the Economics Editor of the BBC, former Economics Editor for the London Times and former British Ambassador to the United States, has written a broadranging, stirring, and surprising account of man's pursuit of wealth. From cavemen to cyberspace, and spanning the entire globe, The Wealth of Man is a masterwork of historical, economic, scientific and cultural synthesis--the sort of re-reading of history that makes a reader's eyes pop open with wonder and delight. Like Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel or David Landes's The Wealth and Poverty of Nations , The Wealth of Man is a big, grand, insightful book that puts all of the pieces together. It is history the way it should be written, boldly illuminating our past as it shines a bright light forward.
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Educated at Oxford and a veteran of the Royal Navy, Peter Jay has a long and acclaimed career as a journalist, historian, and government official. He served for six years in the British Treasury Department before joining the Times as Economics Editor. After a decade at the paper, he was appointed Ambassador to the United States. He is currently the Economics Editor for the BBC and a frequent presence on British television. The Wealth of Man will tie into a major six-part BBC documentary narrated by Jay. He lives in Oxfordshire, England.From Booklist:
Quixotic it may appear to proffer a one-volume history of the world economy that holds interest, but Jay succeeds. Exhibiting the flair of a journalist and the worldly wisdom of a finance official, both of which professions occupied him in Britain, Jay jaunts from the dawn of agriculture to the globalized present. His story adheres to a highly serviceable metaphor for humanity's work for wealth: the waltz. First, an advance increases wealth; the increase attracts political attention; and the threat to wealth from politics eventuates in rules to regulate or protect wealth from capricious avarice. Commanding a capacious fund of information, Jay advances illustrations of his waltz motif from the first recorded wars in the Fertile Crescent to wealth's modern three-step in China. Yet Jay's erudition is not designed for impressing readers, but for informing them about the buildup of the material platform of contemporary civilization--about which most are unreflecting. Far from an apology for laissez-faire, Jay's accessible, nontechnical history outlines wealth's accumulations and dissipations as a way of cautioning against sanguine expectations of unending prosperity. Bonnie Smothers
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