This book, referred to as the most important political book of the decade, is an 800-page exposť of the Federal Reserve published in 1987.
The first part of the book details the economic crisis of the late 1970s when inflation was running wild and no one knew what to do. To regain control of the economy, the Fed adopted a very aggressive policy and switched their game plan from using interest rates (Keynesian theory) to using the money supply (monetarist theory).
The second part of the book covers a variety of money-related topics, many from a philosophical viewpoint, including:
Naturally, the book also gives an inside look at Fed, including a brief history of central banking, the creation of the Fed, the Fed's operations (such as FOMC meetings), and the Fed's relationship with member banks and politicians (particularly during the turbulent Carter and Reagan years). This book also focuses on the human element of the Fed, including the most recent chairmen at the time (Paul Volker and William Miller), the composition of the Board members, and their relationship with each other.
The book's third section then shifts back to the real world. It picks back up in the early 1980s as the economy is mired in a severe recession, with manufacturers, home builders, small businesses, and farmers getting hit especially hard. The economy eventually picked back up and, as everyone knows, it became morning in America again. The book then quickly touches on such post-recession topics as: the Latin America debt crisis, the passing of the baton to Greenspan, and the stock market Crash of 1987.
One of the best things about this book is that it looks at issues from a historical and multi-disciplinary perspective. So many books make static observations about events without giving them any context. But to gain a true understanding of a subject, a book needs to respect the scope and breadth of related issues and how they helped shape the way things are today.
Although the subject of money relates to so many areas of life, the book does take on an air of contrived sophistication at times. The book's lessons are also less relevant today because the rise of Fed-watching, which has become one of the most popular financial past-times over the last couple of decades, has raised everyone's comprehension of the subject matter.
Although the book is very introspective about many monetary topics, it does not get philosophical about whether the Fed itself should exist, which is a very popular and particularly relevant topic today. Readers who are interested in that debate should check out the highly-regarded book, "The Creature from Jekyll Island". In addition to being philosophically-neutral, "Secrets of the Temple" is also less instructional, and is more of a narrative about the Federal Reserve during the Volker years. Even though it sprinkles plenty of lessons on top of the stories, someone looking for an education about the more technical aspects of the Fed, would be better off with a different book.