Murray Newton Rothbard has been quoted as saying this book is THE best book ever written on Money & Credit. So having found Rothbard's writings to be outstanding in their own right, I moved on to this Mises classic!
The first thing to note is that this book was first published in 1912 and in German, and although the translation has been accomplished superbly, the style of writing has somewhat of an antequated feel to it; not quite the same free flowing prose you get with Rothbard. Once you get into the feel of it though, this in no way detracts from your understanding of the theory presented.
It has an excellent new Foreward by Rothbard himself, extensive footnoting and index and is hardbound beautifully by the Liberty Fund Press, with dust jacket. There is also a nice Appendix: On The Classification of Monetary Theories, that is very useful and informative.
The book itself is divided into four main Parts:
Part One: The Nature of Money.
Part Two: The Value of Money.
Part Three: Money and Banking.
Part Four: Monetary Reconstruction.(This part was added in 1952).
For me the book really took on a story of two halves. In the first half of the book, Parts 1 & 2, the bulk of the theory is really laid out. It can be slow going as it is extremely in depth but I highly recommend you stick with it as this pays off in the second half of the book!
In Part 3 Mises really starts putting flesh onto the theory when we get into Money & Banking proper with discussion of demand for money, credit, fiduciary paper, rate of interest etc. But towards the end in Chapters 19 & 20 things get MUCH more interesting as equilibrium rates and interest are discussed in detail and he finally talks about gold, the gold standard and banking freedom.
Part 4 is where my heart lies. Here we have the discussion of the principles of sound money versus contemporary currency systems. There's then an excellent discourse on the Return to Sound Money, ie the Classical Gold Standard.
The second half of this wonderful book certainly flowed better for me, but that may also be just because I am more of an investment manager/trader and less of an economist! You feel like you have had Mises teaching you in fine detail and that he has left no stone unturned in your understanding. Mises doesn't read as easily as the prose of Rothbard but that does not detract from the excellence of the material. Superb!
It really IS a truly outstanding work and if not the best book ever written on the subject, it surely has to be at the very least, one of the very best, and as such is certainly a "must-read"!!!
This wonderful, beautifully bound, classic is an absolute "steal" at $20. I still cannot believe it is sold for so little. My recommendation is to buy it while it is still available in this beautiful hardbound edition!