I have just finished Manias, Panics and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises by Charles Kindleberger and Robert Aliber.

It was an easier read than the Financial History of Western Europe, although some sections did read like a particularly dense history textbook (I suspect that these sections were pure Kindleberger). It was worth the effort, however. The two main things that the book has given me are an overview of the long history of financial crises, from the 1600’s to the present day, and a sense of the role of international capital flows in those crises. Building on the Financial History, I also have a better understanding of the functioning of the gold standard and the differences between that system and the one that obtains today.

I would recommend the Financial History to those of an academic bent who are sufficiently interested in the development of the financial system to work through a long, dense work on the subject. I thoroughly recommend Manias, Panics and Crashes, on the other hand, to everyone who works in the financial industry.