January 03, 2004

Book Notes

A BIT ABASHEDLY, we shall now present proof that we perhaps need to get out more, take up knitting, or some such other hobby.

We were in the bookstore this evening looking for our week's copy of The Economist when we stumbled across a book that we thought looked really cool. Even though we won't have time to get to it for a while, we found the topic so utterly fascinating that we eagerly picked it up and purchased it without a second thought. On the way home, we gleefully thumbed through it to get a glance at what we would be able to later study in depth. In short, this is a book we are excited about.

The book in question is David Hackett Fischer's "The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History," which examines political and social history through the lens of inflationary and deflationary periods, doing so using wage levels, prices for goods and services, etc. We don't mean just medieval history or modern history either -- there's a graph in here for Babylon in the 19th century before Christ. (That's even more impressive when you consider that actual "cash money" wasn't really invented until the 6th century before Christ.)

Money itself, we might add, was a lot cooler back before the British decimalized everything in the Seventies (more proof that everything bad in our lives happened in the Seventies). We heartily approved of the old English system, for the same reasons which everyone else out there has given on the subject. First, it was confusing enough so people actually had to learn how to do math, and second, it maintained a cultural tradition that went back to the Roman Empire.

But we'll shut up now.

Actually, now that we think of it, we do have one very serious request for our readers. We are looking for an English copy of Giovanni di Pagolo Morelli's Ricordi, which is the diary/family history of that medieval Florentine merchant. We have had absolutely no luck in finding one through the usual channels. We are going to inquire through some book dealers we know here, but if you happen to know where we could find a copy -- e-mail us! Address is on the left.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at January 3, 2004 12:07 AM | TrackBack