This book, written by Murray Rothbard, an economist and historian of fairly well known repute, is a scathing attack on not only the Federal Reserve, but the interests that created this institution. Rothbard is an adept writer, as he takes a concept that can be fairly daunting and makes it accessible to the those readers without an economics background. I considered trying to earn a degree in Economics, but abandoned it when I found out that most of it is tied to higher mathematics. I'm more interested in the conceptual side. Rothbard cuts out math and focuses on the real meat of the issue, the concepts that govern money supply and inflation.
The book starts by discussing the biggest problem with the Federal Reserve system, which is fractional reserve banking. Rothbard explains how this system is only functioning because people believe that it works. If there was a run on banks tomorrow, the entire financial system would collapse, because there isn't enough "real" money in reserve to cover all of the bank notes in circulation. Rothbard believes that it is the Fed that causes inflation, and that the Fed is the sole source of inflation in society. It can be a confusing issue to explain, but Rothbard makes it easy.
The rest of the book is a detailed history of the creation of the central banking system. This part can be confusing due to the numerous names that Rothbard flies through as he traces the events leading up to the creation of the Fed at Jekyll Island in 1911. Several interesting points are made during this history. Rothbard says that the Progressive movement in American history was essentially engineered by the money interests to help destroy competition. The little guy couldn't afford to put up with all the regulatory laws passed by the government. This opened the way for the giants, such as Morgan and Rockefeller to monopolize industry. Another point that Rothbard makes is that the history of the United States from after the Civil War to World War Two has essentially been controlled by two financial camps, Morgan and Rockefeller. In this way, he supports views held by many that the big money trust controls the country and owns all of the politicians, an issue that is very much in vogue today, and can be seen in the minor success of Ralph Nader's run for the White House. The book winds up by saying that the only way to restore sanity is to go back to the gold standard, where all money is backed up by an equivalent amount of either gold or silver.
I'd recommend this book to anyone with an interest in finance and economics. This book is good for anyone who just wants to understand what fractional reserve banking is and how it works. Rothbard died in 1995, but he has left a good account of himself behind for all to enjoy.