Scott Nations weaves together the history of the United States, with an eye on both economic history and cultural history, in his book A History of the United States in Five Crashes.
The book features an intriguing cast of characters, and many famous names portrayed in a new light (for those of us who are not experts). The market and business terminology can get a bit hard at times, but once Nations has provided the backdrop, he tells interesting stories of "greed and stupidity."
The book begins with the Panic of 1907, and examines the personalities of Theodore Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan, as well as the economic impact of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
He reveals familiar tactics: "In 1907 branch banking wasn't yet legal, so bankers practiced what was known as chain banking... cash would be used to buy just enough stock in a bank to gain control. That stock would be used as collateral for a loan to buy just enough stock in a second bank to again gain control, and the stock in the second bank would buy control of a third bank, and so on..." pg. 31
There are also interesting and funny tidbits throughout the book. For instance, Theodore Roosevelt was on a hunting trip when he was asked about the financial chaos going on in New York City during the 1907 Panic. He responded with a list of animals he had killed: "three bears, six deer, one wild turkey, twelve squirrels, one duck, one oppossum, and one wildcat" pg. 45.
From there Nations goes into the roaring twenties, followed by the stock market crash of 1929, Black Monday in 1987, The Great Recession in 2008, and the Flash Crash in 2010.
Scott Nations compares these market crashes, and looks for similarities among the changing market forces that brought them about.