Summary of A Free Nation Deep in Debt

Looking for the book?
We have the summary! Get the key insights in just 10 minutes.

A Free Nation Deep in Debt book summary


7 Overall

4 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


This impressively researched opus reflects an obsession with One Big Idea that never comes quite clearly into focus, but revolves around the critical historical role played by national credit. Behold an author who not only quotes the Biblical book of Numbers, but also interprets it as a document of financial history, ignoring the contentious issues of authorship and anachronism that make scriptural exegesis such challenging work for specialists. He traces the way government and conflict are funded from Herodotus to the Hanoverian Court to Woodrow Wilson. Like the River Platte, this work is a mile wide and an inch deep; but the river has a definite direction, and this meanders. If you fancy an intriguing browse through major and minor points of political and fiscal history, has found just the book for you. Some scenes are indelible, like the Germans celebrating WWI bond purchases by driving iron nails into a big wooden statue of a Field Marshall, and may jolt you if you think Allied and Axis powers were funded differently. The U.K. and the U.S. sponsored similar popular financial mobilizations, complete with bombastic slogans (no statues, though).

In this summary, you will learn

  • a fascinating amount of historical detail about the relationship between finance and political structures from Biblical times to the present.

About the Author

James Macdonald was an investment banker for many years, and this is his first book.



Public Credit in Ancient Times
Public credit began in ancient Greece, following the Peloponnesian War, about 404 BC, with loans from Sparta to those who would lose Athens to the democrats. Borrowing and lending in Greece, sometimes voluntary and sometimes not quite completely voluntary...

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

Customers who read this summary also read

More by category