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A Free Nation Deep in Debt:

The Financial Roots of Democracy.


Princeton University Press,  May 2006



"a masterpiece of historical narrative, founded on an immense trove of numerical detail, drawn from the records of public finance and credit markets over millennia...Macdonald offers a simple, stunning thesis: Democracy arises from public debt."

—James Galbraith, Professor of Government at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, Fall 2006.  

“A profound and original work by an experienced financial practitioner . . .  Macdonald has something exciting to teach all serious students of history—that the evolution of democratic institutions is not just about taxation and representation but also about investment.”

—Niall Ferguson, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History, Harvard University

“Remarkable . . . [This] book could scarcely be more comprehensive . . . Since Macdonald was for many years a British investment banker, he has a hands-on feel for his subject. But he has not allowed his technical expertise to get in the way of his lucid prose: his argument is readily accessible to a lay reader. And that argument is convincing.”

—Gordon S. Wood, The New York Review of Books

"A challenging yet fascinating work . . . Macdonald employs a broad historical canvas to argue a provocative claim: that the growth of government debt is linked . . . to the emergence of democracy."

—Michelle Wucker, Washington Post

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