Crash, Bang, Wallop: The Inside Story of London's Big Bang and a Financial Revolution that Changed the World
by Iain MartinPublished by Sceptre (£25)(Buy at Amazon)
Iain Martin's new history of the Big Bang financial reforms in London in the 1980s "does not pretend to offer a complete history of the City", says Gillian Tett in the Financial Times. Instead, it tries to "explain how a mix of location, language, government oversight, culture and (de)regulation helped to cement London's dominant role as a financial centre in the late 20th century and early 21st century".
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The result is "fun, rip-roaring stuff", says The Times' Philip Aldrick. Martin has an "ear for echoes of the present in stories from the past, making the old City feel remarkably familiar today". The book also reminds us that while "loose morals are not new to the Square Mile", neither are "its buccaneering spirit, outward perspective and ability to innovate, adapt and thrive". This is "a fascinating yarn" about "an unloved industry".
One of the best aspects of the book is the way that Martin "entertainingly rattles, Peter Ackroyd-like, through the innovations and scandals of the City's early days", agrees Jim Armitage in the Evening Standard. Its weakness is that he "doesn't spell out clearly enough what the reforms which resulted Big Bang were, and why they were so vital". He also tends to dismiss any criticism of the City as "the silly hypocrisy of public-school Lefties", but "I suspect many readers of Crash, Bang, Wallop from outside the City will feel the joke was on them".
"It is curious that Martin is not more sceptical about Big Bang's ramifications," says Reuters' Dominic Elliott. However, he at least admits there were "less desirable side effects", such as "a culture of following the letter rather than the spirit of the law". Overall, this is "a zippy historical narrative that celebrates the cultural and financial change that transpired in 1980s Britain".
Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.
He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.
Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.
As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.
Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri
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