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When Money Dies Review

Updated on November 13, 2012

The Best Book on Weimar Money That I Know

A few years ago, I wanted to learn more about the Weimar Republic, and how the people lived when their money went out of control. How did the people survive when their money was losing about half of its value every week? I remember learning about the Weimar Republic, and how people would take wheelbarrow loads of cash to the store in order to buy bread. At the time, I couldn't find a book on the subject, but that was because I didn't know about this book.

When Money Dies was originally written in 1975, but it went out of print for quite some time. It was updated and rereleased in October 2010. The timing couldn't have been more perfect.

While the United States could avoid the fate of the Weimar Republic, the government's recent policy of "quantitative easing," or digitizing money, is not going to help the value of the dollar. We could learn a lot from this book.

Money by penywise.
Money by penywise.

What's In the Book?

When Money Dies covers just about everything that the average person would want to know about the financial situation during the period of Weimar Hyperinflation. It focuses on the period of time between 1920 and 1923, when the inflation really got out of control. It briefly touches upon the root of the inflationary troubles, which began during World War I, and also discusses how the financial weariness of the country led to Hitler's takeover of the country.

The book talks about how the financial troubles affected ordinary people. It uses diaries to describe how one well-off woman, who had a great deal of stock and a nice amount of money, saw her savings dwindle away when she didn't listen to the advice from her banker to exchange her money into foreign currency. The book talks about how currency traders made money, how knowledge workers didn't fare as well as manual laborers, and how the unions would strike so that their wages would increase so that it would attempt to catch up to the cost of living. It talks about how the farmers were reluctant, in the end, to sell their valuable food for worthless paper money, and how the city dwellers eventually resorted to theft in order to get their food. Inflation didn't just affect the people of Germany at the time; it also affected the people in Austria and in Hungary.

The book also talks about the government's role in this time period. It talks about how their monetary policies led to disastrous results, how things really fell apart when other countries decided not to buy their treasury bonds, and how they finally were able to get things back on track. The book also talks a little bit about the personalities behind these policies, and how they affected the country.

Book by nkzs.
Book by nkzs.

Readability

Sometimes nonfiction books can be extremely difficult to read, especially when they talk about money. I didn't find that with this book. In fact, I read most of this book in one day; there are many books that I would not have been able to do that with.

I ended up checking this book out of the library; my library had a waiting list for this book. I wasn't sure whether I wanted to spend my money on this book, because I didn't know much about it, and didn't want to spend my hard earned money (or Swagbucks) on a book that was hard to read and didn't cover what I was looking for. When I ended up first on the waiting list, I was in the middle of reading one of those more difficult books that take forever to get through. The next thing I knew, it was almost time to return this book to the library, and someone was waiting for this book after me. So I decided to spend the day doing nothing but reading this book.

I was able to get through most of this book in one day. Unlike some books, that you would have difficulty retaining much if you spent all day reading, I was able to come away with a good sense of what the Weimar Republic during this time frame must have been like, from a financial standpoint. While there are books that are more readable than this one, it's a book that won't put you to sleep if you want to read it in one sitting.

Question mark by 7rains
Question mark by 7rains

Should You Get This Book?

The question that you're probably wondering is, should you get this book? I personally think that this book is worth reading. If your local library is like mine, there might be a waiting list to read this book; in that case, you might want to buy it rather than wait. If you're short on cash, you might want to get on the waiting list.

Since I checked this book out of the library and don't own it, will I buy this book? Maybe. If the United States continues with its policy of quantitative easing and continues to digitize money, this book might be useful. The US seems to be headed along the same path, although if we do go down the road of hyperinflation, there are likely to be several differences between us and Germany.

If you have the money to buy this book with, and you're really interested in the monetary policies of Weimar Germany during the period of hyperinflation, this is worth purchasing. If you're short on money and are patient, and don't plan on reading this book more than once, you might want to see if your local library has it.

When Money Dies

When Money Dies: The Nightmare of Deficit Spending, Devaluation, and Hyperinflation in Weimar Germany
When Money Dies: The Nightmare of Deficit Spending, Devaluation, and Hyperinflation in Weimar Germany

This book is informative and readable. It's definitely worth a look. This book is also available on Kindle.

 

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