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Playfair

The True Story of the British Secret Agent Who Changed How We See the World
Bruce Berkowitz


BUY Cloth · 340 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9781942695042 · $34.95 ·
BUY Ebook · 340 pp. · ISBN 9781942695059 · $34.95 ·

William Playfair is known primarily as the inventor of statistical graphics--bar charts, pie charts, and graphs. Yet this ingenious Scot also developed concepts in international trade and investment that are used to this day, including ideas on venture capitalism and the benefits of free trade "borrowed" by the likes of Jeremy Bentham and David Ricardo. Playfair published the first general theory explaining the rise and decline of nations, and introduced ideas such as price indexes and methods of measuring national power. In addition to all this, he still had time to observe--and most likely participated in--the storming of the Bastille, and to trigger the first political scandal in the newly formed United States--a land speculation scheme in Ohio that involved top American leaders.

This flawed but brilliant man led yet another life, however--as a British secret agent. He carried out espionage and subversion against France as the First Republic turned radical. Many of his contributions to economics and statistics emerged from what was probably the first full-scale war against a nation’s currency. Bruce Berkowitz has given us the first major biography of the larger-than-life William Playfair--rogue, genius, and patriot--and his remarkable inventions and adventures.

Distributed for George Mason University Press

About the Author: 

Bruce Berkowitz has contributed to the Wall Street Journal and Foreign Affairs and is the author of numerous books on national security and intelligence, including most recently The New Face of War: How War Will Be Fought in the Twenty-first Century.

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