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The Life and Times of the Greatest Victorian

James Grant



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28 July 2020
During the upheavals of 2007-09, the chairman of the Federal Reserve had the name of a Victorian icon on the tip of his tongue: Walter Bagehot. Banker, man of letters, inventor of the Treasury bill, and author of Lombard Street, the still-canonical guide to stopping a run on the banks, Bagehot prescribed the doctrines that-decades later-inspired the radical responses to the world's worst financial crises.

Born in the small market town of Langport, just after the Panic of 1825 swept across England, Bagehot followed in his father's footsteps and took a position at the local family bank-but his influence on financial matters would soon spread far beyond the county of Somerset. Persuasive and precocious, he came to hold sway in political circles, making high-profile friends, including William Gladstone-and enemies, such as Lord Overstone and Benjamin Disraeli. As a prolific essayist on wide-ranging topics, Bagehot won the admiration of Matthew Arnold and Woodrow Wilson, and delighted in paradox. He was also a misogynist, and while he opposed slavery, he misjudged Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. As editor of the Economist, he offered astute commentary on the financial issues of his day, and his name lives on in an eponymous weekly column. He has been called the Greatest Victorian.

In James Grant's colorful and groundbreaking biography, Bagehot appears as both an ornament to his own age and a muse to our own. Drawing on a wealth of historical documents, correspondence, and publications, Grant paints a vivid portrait of the banker and his world.
By:   James Grant
Imprint:   Norton
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 211mm,  Width: 140mm,  Spine: 25mm
Weight:   316g
ISBN:   9780393358285
ISBN 10:   0393358283
Pages:   384
Publication Date:   28 July 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

James Grant founded Grant's Interest Rate Observer, a financial markets journal, and authored Bagehot and The Forgotten Depression, which won the Hayek Prize. His writing has appeared in the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Reviews for Bagehot: The Life and Times of the Greatest Victorian

... his [James Grant's] book is excellent-built on a lot of study (including time in the archives) and written in a gripping style. Mr Grant is at his best when writing about Bagehot's financial journalism and indeed his career as a banker. His accounts of the collapse of Overend Gurney, supposedly the Rock of Gibraltar of Victorian finance, and of Lombard Street , Bagehot's book about that debacle, are exemplary. -- The Economist ... engaging new biography of Bagehot... In this very enjoyable book, Grant demonstrates that he has the measure of a fascinating-and great-Victorian. -- Financial Times The book makes a convincing case that Bagehot deserves credit for being a progenitor of a wider political tradition... -- Moneyweek James Grant [is] one of the most influential contemporary commentators on Wall Street... in Grant's hands, Bagehot's life and career provide a superb prism through which to observe the extraordinary revolution in the British economy during the 19th century. -- Simon Nixon - The Times The most perceptive and brilliant economic and political writer of his time deserves a biographer of equal literary merit. In James Grant, Walter Bagehot has found him. -- Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England and author of The End of Alchemy

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