The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street As a World Power, 1653-2000

by : John Steele Gordon (Scribner)

What on earth is he doing (you're thinking) recommending a history of Wall Street to the general reader? A good question, but The Great Game is a gem of a book that will appeal to a wide spectrum of people regardless of their personal interest in matters financial. Full of colorful characters and incredible schemes, the central thesis of this terrifically readable treatise is the notion that, in a very real sense, Wall Street sits at the very center of world power, almost as a sovereign entity. The scope of its influence is breathtaking, and Gordon paints a meticulously researched and exciting picture of how it came to be that way. There are some surprises, too. The author easily dispenses with the traditional view that the crash of 1929 was the proximate cause of the Great Depression, and demonstrates how advances in communication technology can often be traced back to the need for investors to have better access to information.