The Almighty Dollar and the Invention of America
By Jason Goodwin
(Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 9780805064070, 336pp.)
Publication Date: January 2003
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From the author of Lords of the Horizons, the
fascinating story of a new kind of money for a
Money has always been at the heart of the American experience. Paper money, invented in Boston in 1698, was a classic of American ingenuity-and American disregard for authority and tradition. With the wry and admiring eye of a modern Tocqueville, Jason Goodwin has written a biography of the dollar, giving us the story of its astonishing career through the wilds of American history.
Greenback looks at the dollar over the years as a form of art, a kind of advertising, a reflection of American attitudes, and a builder of empires. Goodwin shows us how the dollar rolled out the frontier and peopled the Plains; how it erected the great cities; how it expressed the urges of democracy and opportunity. And, above all, Goodwin introduces us to the people who championed-or ambushed-the dollar over the years: presidents, artists, pioneers, and frontiersmen; bankers, shady and upright; safecrackers, crooks, and dreamers of every stripe. It's a vast and colorful cast of characters, who all agreed on one thing: getting the money right was the key to unlocking liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Greenback delves into folklore and the development of printing, investigates wildcats and counterfeiters, explains why a buck is a buck and how Dixie got its name. Like Goodwin's Lords of the Horizons, another story of empire, Greenback brings together an array of quirky detail and surprising-often hilarious-anecdote to tell the story of America through its best-beloved product.
Jason Goodwin's previous titles include Lords of the Horizons, On Foot to the Golden Horn, and A Time for Tea. He lives in England.