Gold Rush

James Ledbetter, author of One Nation Under Gold: How One Precious Metal Has Dominated the American Imagination for Four Centuries (Norton/Liveright; HighBridge Audio; OverDrive Sample), spoke on NPR’s Fresh Air about the ways gold has been perceived through American history.

The discussion covers the history of money in the US and the many different currencies that were used in the early days, including those issued by states and banks issued and even from other countries. The conversation also covers the role of the Gold Rush in monetary policy, the creation of Fort Knox, and the period of time when citizens had to turn in their gold to the government. In more recent times, there was even a 20th century alchemy quest to create more gold, called Operation Goldfinger.

NPR’s Dave Davies, filling in for host Terry Gross, says the book further details how gold became “a symbol of permanence and quality and most of all a store of value.”

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