Millionaire Book Summary - Millionaire Book explained in key points
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Millionaire summary

Janet Gleeson

The Philanderer, Gambler, and Duelist Who Invented Modern Finance

4.5 (37 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

Millionaire by Janet Gleeson tells the story of the age of Enlightenment. We follow the war for wealth and possessions between nations and individuals, it's a gripping tale of power, corruption and struggle for change.

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    The central principles that guide the world of banking have been around for a long time.

    Can you imagine a world without banking or credit? While it might seem impossible to conceive of, the fact is that the banking system as we know it, one with credit and borrowing at its heart, is a relatively new configuration.

    Ancient Babylon had a form of banking, we know that paper money circulated in China in the seventh century BC and that there were stalls and counters in the Greco-Roman world where money could be lent and exchanged. But the foundations of modern banking really began to develop in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

    This shift is associated with Italian cities, and with the Republic of Genoa in particular. In fact, it's from the Italian language that we get the word “bank,” since the “banco” was the table where transactions took place. But as trade expanded, as new lands were colonized and as monarchs’ lifestyles grew ever more extravagant, the old banking system simply stopped working.

    This new world of commerce, however, was not built with material money and precious metals, but was instead formed by a complex system of credit.

    Credit can be a wonderful thing, but, as we know from the recent banking crisis, credit only works when there is trust. In the seventeenth century, this trust was created by banks having money in their vaults as collateral.

    Once these physical reserves were established, the idea of paper money took off. Banknotes could circulate while a limited amount of gold coins with real value could be kept in reserve.

    In theory, you could take your paper money to the bank and exchange it for real currency. But such a financial system inherently depends on trust and political stability; it simply would not sustain the rush on the banks that would occur if everyone demanded to exchange their bills.

    It was in this changing world that a figure emerged who would bring fresh ideas to the field of economics: John Law.

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    What is Millionaire about?

    Millionaire (1999) tells the story of the late seventeenth-century gambler and economist John Law. While he spent his early life as a dandy in England, he went on to become a fabled financial authority and economist in continental Europe. Although Law’s ideas about economics and money briefly brought both him and the nation of France incredible wealth, it also showed the inherent danger of speculation and boom and bust economics. Despite failing in his day, several of his ideas gained currency over time and remain intrinsic parts of the modern economic system.

    Millionaire Review

    Millionaire (2000) by Janet Gleeson offers a captivating exploration of the historic obsession with wealth and the rise of the millionaire. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • With meticulous research and fascinating insights, it uncovers the intriguing stories of individuals who amassed extraordinary fortunes throughout history.
    • The book delves into the social, economic, and cultural implications of the millionaire phenomenon, providing a comprehensive understanding of wealth accumulation.
    • Combining biographies, anecdotes, and historical context, it transforms a potentially dry topic into a compelling narrative that keeps readers engrossed from beginning to end.

    Who should read Millionaire?

    • Students of economics
    • People curious about the complex history of money
    • History buffs fascinated by renowned historical figures and their influential ideas

    About the Author

    Janet Gleeson is the author of The Arcanum, The Grenadillo Box, and The Serpent in the Garden. She has worked for the Impressionist Paintings Department at Sotheby’s and has written for many magazines, especially on antiques and art.

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    Millionaire FAQs 

    What is the main message of Millionaire?

    The main message of Millionaire is the fascinating history of money and how wealth is created and accumulated.

    How long does it take to read Millionaire?

    The reading time for Millionaire varies depending on your reading speed. But with the Blinkist summary, you can get the key insights in just 15 minutes.

    Is Millionaire a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Millionaire is definitely worth reading! It offers a captivating exploration of the world of wealth and money, providing insights and stories that will leave you inspired and informed.

    Who is the author of Millionaire?

    The author of Millionaire is Janet Gleeson.

    What to read after Millionaire?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Millionaire, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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