The 'Square Mile', London's financial powerhouse, rose to prominence with the defeat of Napoleon in 1815. David Kynaston's vibrant history brings this world to life, taking us from the railway boom of the 1830s to the 'Golden Age', when the legendary gold standard reigned supreme. Between the two World Wars the City was affected by the Wall Street Crash, pressured by politicians, trade unions and industrialists, but by the end of the twentieth century it had regained a precarious global might.
Woven throughout are the stories of four individuals who shaped the City in different ways - Nathan Rothschild, Ernest Cassel, Montagu Norman and Siegmund Warburg. But the realm of great bankers and brokers is also the workplace of young clerks throwing paper darts, typists bringing in their sandwiches, and sad racketeers watching aghast as the markets fall. Above all, we see what it was like to work in the City - the dress codes, eating habits, work hours, pay, humour, changing architecture and language that forged the unique culture of the Square Mile. Richly entertaining, full of vivid anecdotes, this is a story of booms, busts and bankruptcies - from the Kaffir boom to the Marconi scandal, the 'Big Bang' deregulation of 1986, and the Barings crash in 1995 - bringing us to the brink of the modern age.
David Knayston's groundbreaking history of the City of London, published in four volumes between 1994 and 2001, is a modern classic. Skillfully edited into a single volume by David Milner, it tells a story as dramatic as any novel, while explaining the mysteries of the financial world in a way that we can all understand.