The Rise and Fall of the City of Money

A Financial History of Edinburgh

Ray Perman

Date Published :
December 2020
Publisher :
Illustration :
8pp b/w plates, 8pp color plates
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Hardback
ISBN : 9781780276236
Pages : 336
Dimensions : 9.45 X 6.5 inches
Stock Status : In stock
Binding : Paperback
ISBN : 9781780276809
Pages : 400
Dimensions : 7.8 X 5.1 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


It started and ended with a financial catastrophe. The Darien disaster of 1700 drove Scotland into union with England, but spawned the institutions which transformed Edinburgh into a global financial centre. The crash of 2008 wrecked the city’s two largest and oldest banks – and its reputation. In the three intervening centuries, Edinburgh became a hothouse of financial innovation, prudent banking, reliable insurance and smart investing. The face of the city changed too as money transformed it from medieval squalor to Georgian elegance.

This is the story, not just of the institutions which were respected worldwide, but of the personalities too, such as the two hard-drinking Presbyterian ministers who founded the first actuarially-based pension fund; Sir Walter Scott, who faced financial ruin, but wrote his way out of it; the men who financed American railways and eastern rubber plantations with Scottish money; and Fred Goodwin, notorious CEO of RBS, who took the bank to be the biggest in the world, but crashed and burned in 2008.

About The Author

Ray Perman was a journalist for 30 years in London and Scotland. In 1977 he first visited Canna and met John Lorne Campbell, with whom he corresponded until John's death in 1996.


I loved Ray Perman’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Money (Birlinn, RRP£25) a fabulous history of the crises and flashes of entrepreneurial brilliance that made Edinburgh the UK’s second-biggest financial city. A meticulously researched book of stories about the people who rose and fell with the city - bank directors who ended up in jail, aristocrats who ended up broke, and clever investment managers who set up the firms your pension is probably still with today'

- Merryn Somerset Webb, editor in chief of MoneyWeek, Selecting for the Financial Times Books of the Year, 2019)

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