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The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers--And the Coming Cashless Societyby David Wolman
Synopses & Reviews
For ages, money has meant little metal disks and rectangular slips of paper. Yet the usefulness of physical money — to say nothing of its value — is coming under fire as never before. Intrigued by the distinct possibility that cash will soon disappear, author and Wired contributing editor David Wolman sets out to investigate the future of money... and how it will affect your wallet.
Wolman begins his journey by deciding to shun cash for an entire year — a surprisingly successful experiment (with a couple of notable exceptions). He then ventures forth to find people and technologies that illuminate the road ahead. In Honolulu, he drinks Mai Tais with Bernard von NotHaus, a convicted counterfeiter and alternative-currency evangelist whom government prosecutors have labeled a domestic terrorist. In Tokyo, he sneaks a peek at the latest anti-counterfeiting wizardry, while puzzling over the fact that banknote forgers depend on society's addiction to cash. In a downtrodden Oregon town, he mingles with obsessive coin collectors — the people who are supposed to love cash the most, yet don't. And in rural Georgia, he examines why some people feel the end of cash is Armageddon's warm-up act. After stops at the Digital Money Forum in London and Iceland's central bank, Wolman flies to Delhi, where he sees first-hand how cash penalizes the poor more than anyone — and how mobile technologies promise to change that.
Told with verve and wit, The End of Money explores an aspect of our daily lives so fundamental that we rarely stop to think about it. You'll never look at a dollar bill the same again.
"Money is a hot topic — Wired magazine contributing editor Wolman observes that it is paradoxically something we think about 'always and never.' Tangible cash, on the other hand, is something 'we think we know.' However, Wolman believes that physical cash will soon cease to be. He explores this compelling possibility by talking with a number of fascinating characters, such as Pastor Glenn Guest of Bowman, GA, who, citing the biblical book of Revelation, believes the end of cash is the beginning of the end of the world; convicted counterfeiter Bernard von NotHaus; and Delhiite Sonu Kumar, who uses his cell phone to remotely update his State Bank of India account, a technological advancement that Wolman notes could be 'the angel of death' to the paper and coin system. Cash alternatives are already in place, whether we acknowledge or recognize them as such, and Wolman (A Left-Hand Turn Around the World) reviews a few, including Kilowatt Cards and Disney Dollars. Just as interesting is Wolman's discussion of money, culture, and poverty: is cash truly — as Ignacio Mas of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation claims — the 'enemy of the poor'? If cash goes away, will that really lead to financial inclusion for the world's poor? Wolman's writing is clear and thoughtful, and his use of characters and places add color and personality to this excellent investigation of a timely topic. Agent: Giles Anderson, the Anderson Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Alternating between in-depth reporting and personal rumination, Wired contributing editor Wolman tries to figure out what a cashless society would mean and whether it is an idea whose time has come....He has plenty of thoughts about what could replace physical money, but he is wise enough to understand that he cannot imagine all of the unexpected outcomes. An intriguing book on a topic that many readers have always taken for granted: the cash in their purses and wallets." Kirkus Reviews
"You'll never look at a dollar bill without thinking its societal costs are more than a dollar." Biz Books
"An entertaining and engaging canter through the world of money, both real and electronic." The Fiscal Times
"[A] fascinating book...The End of Money will cause readers to rethink the contents of their wallets....This is an example of exceptional in-depth reporting that examines cash and predicts that in the near future our currencies will undergo a change that will be so dramatic it will change the way our world works." King Features Syndicate
"A fascinating exploration of how we are evolving into a society that relies entirely on plastic and mouse-clicks to buy, sell and save what we need." SecondAct.com
"A thoughtful and engaging study...[Wolman] skillfully covers the essential themes of theories on the economics, politics, sociology, and anthropology of money; and he does so painlessly....This is a very well written study, and it has none of the alienating gravitas of an economics tome. The author follows interesting stories populated by colorful characters. And he explains difficult concepts with skill....One of the best books in a long time on a difficult subject." New York Journal of Books
"[A] provocative new book....A tidy history of money and its discontents." Wired.com,
"This is quite a romp, half digerotica, half travelogue....Whatever your take, reading this book will both entertain you and give your argument more currency." Slate.com
"A particularly good chapter details the mobile banking revolution in the developing world....Interesting too are arguments for abolishing cash." The New Scientist
"[An] entertaining and enlightening account....Wolman has delivered an intriguing, thoughtful case against physical cash, aiming pile-drivers at its every weakness. Well-written and full of telling detail, The End of Money successfully envisions a better cashless future." Boston Globe
"From a history of the invention and rise of physical money to the evolution of paperless alternatives and cross-cultural influences on cash today, this pairs history with insights from a range of individuals who see the option of a 'cashless society' as either a big pro or a big con. Any collection strong in economics and money issues will find this an intriguing survey of what will happen to counterfeiters and others in the coming cashless society." Midwest Book Review
Book News Annotation:
Traveling the world to study the story of cash, Wired magazine contributing editor David Wolman explores the future of currency and what its imminent demise might mean for technology and people around the globe. The author talks to counterfeiters, coin collectors, bankers, and transaction technology gurus, examining the social, economic, and political ramifications of a world moving away from tangible currency. The work is engaging and well written and will appeal to general readers with an interest in the social consequences of technology. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From Wired magazine contributing editor and award-winning journalist David Wolman—the story of the end of money as we know it
The age of paper dollars and metal coins is coming to a close. In The End of Money, David Wolman introduces the people, technologies, and trends powering this shakeup, taking us to hotspots of the cashless revolution. He zooms from the cash-strapped slums of Delhi, to the tech-obsessed streets of Tokyo, to London to hobnob with digital cash gurus. Then its on to Reykjavik, where Icelanders are about to kill their national currency; Washington, to learn about high-tech counterfeiting; and Los Angeles, where scientists study our brains on cash. Along the way, Wolman examines the implications of next-generation payment innovations, investigates alternative and virtual currencies, and showcases the boon in mobile-phone banking.
As cash gets pushed toward extinction, now is the time to explore its effect on our wallets and our lives.
About the Author
David Wolman writes for Wired, Discover, Newsweek, and other magazines. His previous books are A Left-Hand Turn Around the World and Righting the Mother Tongue. He lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit: David-Wolman.com
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