Christopher Ondaatje

The Buck Starts Here

Greenback: The Almighty Dollar and the Invention of America

By

Hamish Hamilton 320pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

ALTHOUGH CALLED ‘PAPER money’, the US dollar is in fact a water-resistant mixture of linen and cotton, with coloured silk fibres running through it. The word ‘dollar’ comes from the thaler, a coin first made at the silver mines of Joachimsthal in Bohemia in 1519. Today there are seven trillion dollars in the world – most of which exist only electronically. Fourteen billion are the familiar green ‘bills’, or notes, and a third of these are held outside the United States. Thus ‘there are more dollar bills in existence than any other branded object, including Coke cans’.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,