Harvesting Gold by David L. Hammes
Thomas Edison's Experiment to Re-Invent American Money

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Synopsis

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
 

About David L. Hammes

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Richard Mahler is an independent photojournalist, author, radio producer, editor, and teacher specializing in media, arts, travel, politics, personal transformation, and the environment, as well as Native American and Latino affairs. His newspaper column, Un Poco de Todo, appears biweekly in the Albuquerque Journal. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, he travels widely.Since 1978, Mahler has contributed to the programs of National Public Radio and Calendar pages of the Los Angeles Times. He has written dozens of articles for the latter and was TV critic for NPR's Morning Edition from 1986-89. His by-line has also appeared in scores of magazines, including Outside, Ms., Columbia Journalism Review, Writer's Digest, New West, Whole Earth Review, LA Style, New Age, Americas, Angeles, Great Expeditions, New Mexico, Seven Days, Inquiring Mind, and Mother Jones. His newspaper credits include the Christian Science Monitor, Miami Herald, LA Weekly, Chicago Tribune, and San Francisco Chronicle. Mahler's work has been distributed by the AP, Pacific News Service, Crain News Service, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, American Library Association, and College Press Service. His programs have aired on CBS, Pacifica, Public Radio Intl., Radio Bilingue, Voice of America, and Canadian Broadcasting Corp. The Society of American Travel Writers, PEN (international writers' organization), and Radio/TV News Directors Assn. have honored his work with various awards. He has worked as an editor for Indian Artist magazine and John Muir Publications, among others.Mahler is author (with Connie Goldman) of Secrets of Becoming a Late Bloomer; (with Riki Stevens) Plane Truth: The Health and Safety Hazards of Flying, Belize: Adventures in Nature, Guatemala: Adventures in Nature, New Mexico's Best, and Tending the Earth, Mending the Spirit: The Healing Gifts of Gardening, which has been named a finalist in the Home-Garden category of ForeWord Magazine's 2000 Book of the Year Awards. He is currently writing a book about the importance of silence and solitude in daily life.From 1979-80, Mahler was news director of Pacifica's KPFK Los Angeles and held similar positions at other stations. In Los Angeles, he produced programs for KLON, KUSC, KCRW and KXLU, as well as the Southwest Museum. In 1973, Mahler was a founder of the nation's first bilingual public radio outlet, KBBF-FM in Santa Rosa, California. He learned Spanish at Ecuador's La Academia de Espanol in Ecuador and Santa Fe's Instituto Cervantes.Mahler has taught media courses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (M.A. Journalism & Mass Communications), Loyola Marymount University, Long Beach City College and Santa Fe Community College. He earned a B.A. With Honors in Liberal Studies from Sonoma State University. The founding president of nonprofit RadioWest, Mahler was from 1990-93 a board member of the Association of Independent Radio Producers and editor of its magazine, AIRSPACE. From 1994 to 1999 he was president of The Food Brigade, a food rescue organization serving the homeless and hungry of Santa Fe.
 
Published March 12, 2012 by Richard Mahler Publications. 166 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Education & Reference.

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With the nation suffering from a sharp depression in the early 1920s after the inflationary boom of World War I, Thomas Edison figured he could solve the economic malaise with a plan to back the value of money with farming commodities as an alternative to the gold standard.

Jun 07 2012 | Read Full Review of Harvesting Gold: Thomas Ediso...

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