Blood and Money

War, Slavery, Finance and Empire

by David McNally  

David McNally reveals the true story of money’s origins and development as one of violence and human bondage.

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  • April 2020
  • ISBN: 9781773632735
  • 320 pages
  • $27.00
  • For sale in Canada

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About the book

In most accounts of the origins of money we are offered pleasant tales in which it arises to the mutual benefit of all parties as a result of barter. In this groundbreaking study, David McNally reveals the true story of money’s origins and development as one of violence and human bondage. Money’s emergence and its transformation are shown to be intimately connected to the buying and selling of slaves and the waging of war. Blood and Money demonstrates the ways that money has “internalized” its violent origins, making clear that it has become a concentrated force of social power and domination. Where Adam Smith observed that monetary wealth represents “command over labor,” this paradigm shifting book amends his view to define money as comprising the command over persons and their bodies.

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What people are saying

Publishers Weekly

“McNally casts an unsparing light on the origins of money—and capitalism itself—in this scathing, Marxist-informed account…. McNally builds a powerful, richly documented argument that unchecked capitalism prioritizes greed and violence over compassion….[T]his searing academic treatise makes a convincing case.”


David McNally

David McNally, formerly Professor of Political Science at York University, is the Cullen Distinguished Professor of History and Business at the University of Houston (UH) and Director of the Center for the Study of Capitalism. He is the author of Global Slump, Monsters of the Market, as well as six other books.


  • Foreword and Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • “Droves I Took Alive and Auctioned off as Slaves”: War, Slavery, and Ancient Markets
  • The Law of the Body: Money and the State
  • From the Bones of Princes to the Blood of the Commonwealth: War Finance and the Origins of Capitalism
  • Blood in the Water: Colonialism, Slavery, and the Birth of Modern Money
  • Imperial War, Imperial Money: The Dollar’s Rise to Global Dominance
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Index


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