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Barclays uncovered


Barclays - The Business of Banking 1690-1996 may not be everyone's idea of a page-turner. On the surface it looks as if it might appeal to the select few for whom interim company reports are favoured leisure reading.

There is, though, more to the book, published by Cambridge University Press, than immediately meets the eye.

Although there are parts that some readers might choose to skip (the expanding capital and falling profits section comes to mind), authors Margaret Ackerill and Leslie Hannah make sure there are enough intriguing facts throughout the book to appeal even to those with only a slim knowledge of banking.

The authors track Barclays from its humble Quaker beginnings on 54 Lombard Street in London - an address that has housed five Barclays offices over 300 years - to its period as the world's largest bank. In the process the reader learns of founder John Freame (a goldsmith), the impact of World War II (over 500 employees were lost) and the complicated process that led to the world's first ATM, the Barclaycash dispenser.

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