New ‘Money’ book draws positive review

A captivating book called Money by Jacob Goldstein, a correspondent with the U.S.-based National Public Radio and co-host of the Planet Money podcast, was recently released to positive reviews, including one in the New York Times.

“Written before COVID-19 ravaged the global economy, Goldstein’s book leaves readers to make their own predictions,” writes reviewer Richard Davies, a fellow of the London School of Economics. “The pandemic is imposing rapid changes – to the cost of travel, trust in the state, reliance on neighbors – that surely mean we should get ready for another burst of innovation. ‘Money’ is great preparation for turbulent times: a vibrant and accessible grounding in how the evolution of cash – organic, random and social – really works.”

Highlighting money’s intrinsically social nature, the book explores as its central theme the “paradox of modern currency,” Davies writes, describing currency as “foundational yet resting on faith.”


In his opening chapter, the author relates a story about Indigenous ceremonies hosted by pre-money societies in present-day Canada.

While the widely believed origin of bartering “reduces money to something cold and simple and objective,” Goldstein says, money’s origins are more deeply rooted in historical social practices.

“On the northwest coast of North America, for example, at festivals called potlatch, Native American people spent days hanging out, making speeches, dancing, and giving stuff to each other,” he writes.

“Gift giving was a power move, like insisting on paying the check at a restaurant. Before the Europeans arrived, high-status people gave furs and canoes. By the twentieth century, they were giving sewing machines and motorcycles. This wanton generosity freaked out the Canadians so much that the government made the practice illegal. People went to prison for giving stuff to each other.”

Currency has since become “a national bedrock that sits alongside anthems and flags,” with our cash seeming “solid, official and enduring,” Davies writes.

Described by the reviewer as “fast-paced and chatty,” the book includes “all the characters (of) an academic book … blended with scandal and gossip to propel the story along. The effect is a history of currency full of astonishing tales you might tell a friend in the pub.”

Hachette Books published the 257-page book, fully titled Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing, on Sept. 8.

Leave a Reply

Canadian Coin News


Canadian Coin News is Canada's premier source of information about coins, notes and medals.

Although we cover the entire world of numismatics, the majority of our readers are Canadian, and we concentrate on the unique circumstances surrounding collecting in our native land.

Send Us Your Event

Running an event? Send it to us and we will display it on Canadian Coin News!

Submit Event →

Subscribe To 26 Issues For Just $59.99/year

Subscribe today to receive Canada's premier coin publication. Canadian Coin News is available in both paper and digital forms.

Subscribe Now

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.