AMIDST THE WRECKAGE OF FINANCIAL RUIN, PEOPLE ARE LEFT PUZZLING ABOUT HOW IT HAPPENED. WHERE DID ALL THE PROBLEMS BEGIN? For the answer, Jack Cashill, a journalist as shrewd as he is seasoned, looks past the headlines and deep into pages of history and comes back with the goods. From Plato to payday loans, from Aristotle to AIG, from Shakespeare to the Salomon Brothers, from the Medici to Bernie Madoff-in Popes and Bankers Jack Cashill unfurls a fascinating story of credit and debt, usury and "the sordid love of gain." With a dizzying cast of characters, including church officials, gutter loan sharks, and even the Knights Templar, Cashill traces the creative tension between "pious restraint" and "economic ambition" through the annals of human history and illuminates both the dark corners of our past and the dusty corners of our billfolds.

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