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About the book
  • Published: 6 June 2013
  • ISBN: 9781448138913
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352


The Unauthorised Biography

Money was one of man’s greatest inventions. But we have become its slaves. Felix Martin takes us to the heart of society’s misunderstanding of money and sets us straight.

What is money, and how does it work?

The conventional answer is that people once used sugar in the West Indies, tobacco in Virginia, and dried cod in Newfoundland, and that today’s financial universe evolved from barter.

Unfortunately, there is a problem with this story. It’s wrong. And not just wrong, but dangerous.
Money: the Unauthorised Biography unfolds a panoramic secret history and explains the truth about money: what it is, where it comes from, and how it works.

Drawing on stories from throughout human history and around the globe, Money will radically rearrange your understanding of the world and shows how money can once again become the most powerful force for freedom we have ever known.

  • Pub date: 6 June 2013
  • ISBN: 9781448138913
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

About the Author

Felix Martin

Felix Martin was educated in the UK, Italy and the US, and holds degrees in classics, international relation and economics, including a D.Phil. in Economics from Oxford University. He worked for the World Bank and for the European Stability Initiative think tank, and is currently a partner in the fixed income division at Liontrust Asset Management plc.

Praise for Money

“Brilliant… A fascinating new way of telling the story of what money is”

John Lanchester, Guardian

“A superb synthesis...a lucid, colourful introduction to 3,000 years of monetary history... So replete with literary and historical examples that the story almost tells itself”

Martin Sandbu, Financial Times

“Magnificent – hugely imaginative, clear, coherent”

Robert Skidelsky

“Fizzing with ideas”

Sunday Telegraph

“Compulsively readable”

New York Times

“A most accessible and thrilling read. If you want to read just one book about money, this is it”

Ha-Joon Chang

“If you don’t know about economics, this is a really good introduction…gets right to the heart of it”

Misha Glenny

“It’s a wealth of understanding for understanding wealth”


“Combines breadth of scholarship with a wealth of practical experience in tackling the most elusive of economic subjects - the nature of money”

John Kay

“Martin’s remarkable book, Money, is economic history – and indeed cultural anthropology – with a difference... His sparkling book is worth taking seriously”

Raymond Tallis, Prospect

“We should ask ourselves not just: what is the euro?; but also: what is money? An excellent new book, Money, written by the macro-economist Felix Martin, does just this”

Ben Wright, Financial News

“Felix Martin condenses the broadest of subjects into a searing and potentially life-changing read that destroys all accepted knowledge of this thing we sell our souls for”


“The virtue of Martin’s book is that it exposes the deep flaws in the way we have traditionally thought about money. The exposition is clear… Fresh”

Alex Brummer, New Statesman

“I’m going to read Money by Felix Martin. I’m determined to find out how it works”

Lucy Mangan, Stylist

“Stimulating and timely”

David Priestland, Guardian

“Since the banking crisis, masses of books arrive every week. Scanning them all would be incompatible with eating and sleeping... Much the most entertaining is just called Money”

Samuel Brittan, Financial Times



“Two chapters in, I realized that this was the book I needed when I was having conversations during the Occupy movement, and friends were all trying to understand what had happened and what we wanted to happen differently, and I think if I had read this at the time I would have had more language and stories to talk about that whole argument”

Ellah Allfrey

“A very spritely and lucid and well written book”

Kevin Jackson

“Covers a vast geographical and historical spread”

Martin Shubik, Nature

“Like a thriller writer, Martin inserts little hooks at the end of his chapters for the next section – and he deserves…credit for creating a readable work on such a potentially bone-dry subject”

Ian Birrell, Observer

“Martin tells an interesting story and his diagnosis is persuasive”

Josh Glancy, Sunday Times


Jon Ihle, Sunday Business Post

“This book is a great read, and one that I think non-economists will find completely accessible… The historical detail is fascinating, and the ideas they are used to illustrate are clear and thought provoking, so I’m very glad I read it”

Simon Wren-Lewis, MainlyMacro Blog

“[Martin] demonstrates a capacity both for wit and literary style in this engaging, timely history”

Frank Trentman, BBC History Magazine

“An entertaining history of one of the most powerful, misunderstood forces in the world around us. Not one of those awful books about how to get rich”


“A wonderfully original and entertaining history of money. If you have ever wondered why the whole system seems so dangerously and chronically unstable, this is the book to read”

Liaquat Ahamed, author of Lords of Finance, winner of the Pulitzer Prize


Adam Fergusson, Literary Review

“This is an excellent book to read, full of interesting history and insight, and very clear and well written... A beautiful and sometimes even entrancing study of human thought about money”

Tyler Cowen, Times Literary Supplement

“An important insight into how finance and economics blindsided each other in the runup to the financial crisis”

George Hay, Reuters

“Startling insights in clear, intelligent prose… You will emerge better informed, and also surprisingly entertained”

Nicholas Lezard, Guardian

“A terrific analysis”

William Leith, Evening Standard

“Money isn’t just an entertaining read, it’s also really useful”

Big Issue

“A thought-provoking book”

Good Book Guide

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