The thesis of this book is important, but I cannot say it is worth actually "reading" very closely -- The gist can be extracted in a short time -- and the charts/data scanned. Only time will tell whether the authors' fears are to be realized...
There's an old market adage that bears almost ALWAYS have the better argument; but that bulls, when the day is done, are most often right.... Of course, being bullish today is a relative concept. As Doug Henwood says, "flat is the new up".
This book, to my surprise - even the historical chapters -- is very dry (hence the four-stars). But it is data-driven and important. The authors study a large assortment of examples of financial crisis, extending back to the 14th cen., and covering external default (when a country defaults on debt denominated in the currency of a foreign nation, and held under the jurisdiction of that foreign nation); domestic debt default (issued and regulated in the home currency/laws); banking panics; inflation.
One of their most important findings is that there has been very little study in the literature of domestic default, but that such default (either de jure or de facto) is far more common than many believe -- and that it is, in fact, the massive accumulation of domestic debt (debt issued in one's one currency, largley -- though not exclusively -- to one's own citizens) that is the hidden cause behind many instances of external default, of banking panics, and -- most critically - of inflation (high inflation, defined as 20% or more per annum, and hyper-inflation of 40% or more per annum). The authors show that it is almost impossible for a nation choking on domestic debt to simply "grow" its way out -- the only instance they've found of such benign resolution being Swaziland - and that they will almost always resort to inflation.
Obviously, in studying the modern record, the authors have their eyes firmly on the situation of the Western nations in 2009. The last third of the book deals at some length with Subprime Crisis -- the middle third (where I am now) with banking panics and inflation.
The authors cite approvingly Niall Ferguson's Ascent of Money, and seem close in ways to the credit bubble analysis of Doug Noland. But I am not sure that they have their political biases as well.
(A lot of modern scholarship -- and this is especially (though not exclusively) true in the social sciences -- has a peculiarly stilted quality to it. This book, which is a collaborative effort, suffers from some of that in the beginning -- the first four chapters deal with theory and method and have value, but not much pizzaz. The reader will want to get through that material quickly.
The historical material starts in ch. 5 -- and it looks great. I'll wait till I'm a bit further in before rating it, though.)
(This book comes to me highly recommended)