“The Creature from Jekyll Island” by G. Edward Griffin is the story of the Federal Reserve, and the implications of its existence for you and I. Sound boring? Perhaps – but Griffin does a good job of setting the stage historically and this eases the reading experience. The book begins in the early 20th century with the creation of the Fed, examines the origins of central banking in the preceding years, and even takes a look into our future (current trends assumed). Monetary policy may not sound like an interesting subject, but the impact it has had on domestic policy, war, your pocketbook, and your life in general cannot be avoided.
Why this book is important: Virtually every government in the world has a central bank, and the fact that all are run on a system of fractional-reserve banking has serious implications for every day citizens. When you realize that the boom-bust cycle is not natural to a market (and neither is inflation), your perspective on value, money, savings, wealth, and more will change. Even more importantly, you realize the extent to which our world would be very different if taxpayers were aware of the true costs they are paying for disastrous wars and flawed domestic programs.
What I really enjoyed in the book: There is a wonderful discussion on the history of money. If you’ve never studied this topic before, you’re in for a treat. You’ll learn what money really is (a medium of exchange and representation of labor), what comprised money in the past, and the incredibly important difference between fully-backed money and ‘free’ or ‘floating’ money.
What I didn’t like very much: There is a lot of discussion about the New World Order – a phrase I had heard in the past, but didn’t really understand. While Griffin presents compelling evidence for some sort of collectivist agenda (indeed, you can find this everywhere by looking with your own eyes), the impression I got from the book was that certain organizations are nefariously plotting a world takeover. The nefarious part is the only thing that is hard for me to believe. In my experience, most collectivists have good intent, but their assumptions are based on a bad understanding of human action and little regard for self-ownership. In consequence, they end up pushing us down the path towards 1984 – as the quote goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Should you read this book? “Creature” is long, difficult to read at points, and not particularly entertaining. That being said, it is comprehensive, well-researched, and highly accurate. Understanding the monetary system we have today might be incredibly important in shaping your worldview…it is one of the reasons my husband and I were compelled to leave the military.