Thomas Levenson is the author of Newton and the Counterfeiter, a bestselling book about Newton's time as Master of the Royal Mint. He published The Hunt for Vulcan with Head of Zeus in 2016, a book shortlisted for the Science Book Prize. He teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a frequent visitor to London.
'Levenson is very fluent in his descriptions ... This is not a new tale, but Levenson tells it with a light touch' Spectator. 'An enthralling account of an economic revolution that emerged from a scandal' Kirkus, starred review. 'This erudite and entertaining history offers a fresh take on high finance' Publishers Weekly. 'A brilliant history of the South Sea Bubble, an astounding episode from the early days of financial markets that to this day continues to intrigue and perplex historians. Deeply researched and featuring a colorful cast of characters out of 18th century England - mathematical geniuses, unscrupulous financiers, greedy aristocrats, venal politicians - Money for Nothing is narrative history at its best, lively and fresh with new insights' Liaquat Ahamed. 'Thomas Levenson is a brilliant synthesizer with a grand view of history. Here is the birth of modern finance amid catastrophe and fraud - a gripping story of scientists and swindlers, all too pertinent to our modern world' James Gleick. 'Inspired by Isaac Newton's example, clever schemers sought to conquer the chaos of human affairs by abstracting financial value from tangible goods. Their calculations unleashed the notorious South Sea Bubble, which destroyed fortunes and roiled nations. Thoroughly researched and vibrantly written, Money for Nothing captures those heady, heartbreaking times, which still hold lessons for today' David Kaiser. 'Does a stockmarket crash and a plague sound somehow familiar? Leverson's new book is proof - very cleverly told - of how enlightening history can be. There is no excuse not to learn from the past' Andrea Wulf. 'Superb, fascinating and totally timely, Money for Nothing is a gripping history of the South Sea Bubble by a scholar who makes complicated and subtle matters not just accessible but fun - the story of a world crisis with a flashy cast of grifters, scientists, politicians and charlatans that Levenson makes utterly relevant to the 2008 financial crisis and 2020 pandemic. Essential reading' Simon Sebag Montefiore.