Hostile Money Reviews

Professor Forrest Capie. Cass Business School, City University of London

In ‘Hostile Money’ Paul Wilson brings a different perspective to the study of money and draws on historical experience to illustrate the two-way relationship money has with society. Money can be used consciously and possibly aggressively to shape matters or it can itself be the consequence of, for example, social changes. Wilson discusses in a large coverage over time and space: the effect of social movements on monetary systems; the impact of war on monetary systems; and the interplay between private and state activities and aims.  But there are many other interesting aspects of the story such as counterfeiting, both private and state, or of smuggling and so on.  This is a book full of interest for all kinds of audiences.

John Plender Author of Capitalism: Money, Morals and Markets.

Paul Wilson's Hostile Money is an extraordinarily wide ranging reviewof the relations between war, revolution and money - an essential andcompelling guide to a fascinating area where economics  andgeopolitics collide.

Paola Subacchi 

Professor of International Economics, University of London's Queen Mary Global Policy Institute

Paul Wilson, Hostile Money: Currencies in Conflict, The History Press, 2019.

I am intrigued by the numerous links between money, power, and conflict, but I am also frustrated by how the topic is typically treated – mainly by international-relations specialists, because economists generally steer clear of it. This well-researched book, which includes both historical examples and contemporary evidence, avoids those pitfalls, while offering a fresh perspective on some important dynamics.

Project Syndicate Website Book Recommendations 2019

Robert Pringle

Impressively erudite, he never lets his command of detail hold up the story, so that the reader is swept up in the stormy history of money’s role in some of the greatest social, political and military conflicts from ancient Rome to the cyber warfare of the 21st century.

Wilson successfully explores the inter-connections between major social movements/events/conflicts on the one hand and money/monetary systems one the other. 

The author wears his scholarship lightly. He has no ideological axes to grind. He avoids getting bogged down in sterile debates  for example about monetarist versus Keynesian interpretations of the Great Depression or other much-debated periods of 20th century economic history. He rightly views money as a key social institution, responding to political, military and economic pressures but having its own dynamic. Money stands ready to make its contribution to progress, given the chance to do so. It is part of the effort to better the human condition. This combination of qualities make the book a pleasure to read.

Shades of Sovereignty

Money and the Making of the State

This comprehensive book traces the role of money in the creation of the state. Starting in the early modern era, Paul Wilson explores the monetary systems of empires and new states in the age of nation-building in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Spanning a wide geographical and historical range from the creation of the United States of America to the establishment of the European Union and the breakup of the Soviet Union and beyond, the author examines changing attitudes toward monetary sovereignty as dozens of new states created new currencies since the end of the Second World War.


Wilson analyzes the decision–making of newly independent states in their choice of an appropriate currency, considering the complex factors involved—ranging from the purely economic to questions of security, international recognition, and outright nationalism that have played a part. The author challenges the notion that each country must necessarily have its own currency and explains why some newly independent countries have chosen to adopt the currency of another state. Citing the examples of international currency unions of the nineteenth century and the present day, he contends that sharing a currency does not represent a surrender of political sovereignty. Instead, Wilson argues for a more rational attitude toward money as a facilitator of transactions rather than as a symbol of national identity.

Steve H. Hanke, Johns Hopkins University

Paul Wilson skillfully sifts through the ever-changing, shifting sands of monetary sovereignty to produce a clear, coherent portrait. What do we see? That monetary sovereignty is all about the right to determine a unit of account, a means of payment, and, yes, the right to produce money.


Polydromic – the meaning

Some people may be as surprised as I am that it is impossible to find a definition for ‘polydromic’ at any of the on-line dictionaries.

As a noun, Polydrom has existed for at least 5 years and will be recognized by anyone finding this website. Created from the Greek prefix ‘Poly’ – meaning ‘multiple’ or ‘many’ and Dromos – meaning ‘route’ or’ path’. 

So, Polydrom = anything or any place with many routes leading to or from it. Polydromic –   the ability to attain, enter  or exit anything or any place by multiple routes.

For example:

The means to great wealth are polydromic.

The opportunities for recreational escapism are polydromic

Polydromic approaches to education and learning must be the aspiration of any flexible and civilized society

Central park is a recreational polydrom.

The internet is now the ultimate polydrom of knowledge

Why this seems to have escaped the attention of the lexicographers is puzzling.

Warren Coats, International Monetary Fund, 1976–2004; author of One Currency for Bosnia

The subject of money has intrigued us for millennia and has been treated in many books, but none like Paul Wilson’s fascinating account of how money helped fashion nations. The historical breadth of coverage is breathtaking and engrossing. The choice of monetary regimes has sometimes been determined by economic and sometimes by political considerations. Unsurprisingly, a distinct national currency has often been an important symbol of nationhood for newly independent countries, whether its value was linked to gold, another currency, an inflation target, or nothing at all. But as Wilson engagingly documents: ‘There is no single solution to the question of which currency regime should a new country adopt.’ Wilson traces more currency history than you probably thought you needed to know, but by the time you finish his absorbing account, you will be glad that you read every word.

Central Banking Journal

Any central banker who wishes to set the monetary history of his or her state in historic perspective and in its relation to broad international trends will find this stimulating book essential reading.

Cash & Payment News

The primary challenge through all of the stories recorded in the book is how to ensure stability in the value of the currency. Irrespective of whether the currency is based on a tangible object such as gold and/or silver, or linked in some way to another currency, citizens will seek out stable value. This book tracks the constant struggle of nations to do this, particularly where they lack scale, wealth or stability. Given the rise of cryptocurrencies, this book challenges the link between money and sovereignty. Monetary independence is separate from having your own currency.


PW Photo 3.jpg

After careers in the Army ( 1975 -1985 )and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office ( 1986-1994) I joined De La Rue PLC, the British banknote and passport printers . Over my more than 20 years there in various roles including those of Sales Director of the Currency  Division and Managing Director of the Identity Systems business, I travelled to Central Asia, the Middle East, Transcaucasia, the Caribbean, the Balkans, Western Europe and both North and South America. Latterly, eight years in the role of Director of Government Relations presented an unique opportunity to observe the Westminster operation close - up.

On retirement from De La Rue in 2015, I accepted an invitation to join the staff of the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce in 2016. I had hoped on retirement to do something in  support of UK’s exports, so this new appointment seemed to fit that wish. But there was an added incentive. The Iran Nuclear deal ( JCPOA) of 2015-2016 promised a lifting of  sanctions and therefore an improvement in trade between Iran and the UK among other countries in return for a freezing of Iran’s progress in nuclear research which could be  converted to nuclear weaponry. Thus the Chamber of Commerce was playing its part in support of the nuclear deal. I was Director General of the Chamber February 2018 to  December 2021,  a period covering Trump’s withdrawal from the deal and Iran’s reaction to
the withdrawal. I remain a non – executive director of the Chamber, but now spend  proportionately more of my time writing on various subjects of interest.

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