Thomas Edison’s inventions electrified cities, streamlined factories, and provided the hardware and software needed to launch a vast new entertainment industry. A true American visionary, people clamored to hear the genius whenever he spoke. But a key part of his legacy has been missing from history books—until now.
In 1921, Edison proposed a radical overhaul the U.S. monetary system. In fact, he proposed coming up with a new kind of money.
Like today, this was an era wracked by high unemployment, a fluctuating dollar, political unrest, and social turmoil. Edison's goals were bold: to assure the dollar would become reliable enough to support full employment, to relieve the huge debt burden crushing farmers, to prevent Wall Street from gouging Main Street, and to bring prosperity to the entire nation.
Harvesting Gold tells the remarkable story of Edison’s forgotten plan. It explores economic questions that are as relevant today as when raised by the nation's top thinker more than 90 years ago: What is the proper role of the Federal Reserve System? Why does the Fed do what it does—and should it continue?
Harvesting Gold reveals what this creative genius was told by the experts, included his encouragement by respected Wall Street financier Bernard Baruch. The book tries to understand why Edison's remarkable plan was ignored by the movers and shakers of his day—and how America might have changed had they heeded his advice.
Written in an engaging style and drawing on extensive correspondence drawn from archives of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, Harvesting Gold recounts a compelling drama for anyone eager to know about a little-known period in 20th-century history—as well as its direct connection to crucial economic and monetary issues of today. It also reproduces a copy of Edison's original proposal. Readers who made bestsellers of Ahamed’s "Lords of Finance," Sorkin’s "Too Big to Fail," and Lewis’s "The Big Short" will be enthralled by Harvesting Gold.
"A smart, lively account of a revealing episode in economic history ... A detailed [and] highly readable exposition of [Thomas] Edison's complex [monetary reform] scheme and it's surprising resemblance to modern-day policy innovations ... In Hammes' vivild portrait, [Edison] emerges as a great American amateur: half-genius, half-crank, convinced that a little commonsense tinkering could improve the economy where the experts have failed. Hammes illuminates the crucial role money plays not just in the economy but also in the national character." — Kirkus Reviews