This slim book compiles three Murray Rothbard articles: “Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy,” first published in the August 1984 issue of World Market Perspective, and “The Treaty That Wall Street Wrote” and an accompanying sidebar called “Who’s Who for the Canal Treaty,” which were both published some three decades ago in the long-defunct Inquiry magazine. This book is a terrific tool for the historical arsenals of those who would fight the world money/power elites.

Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy is a great example of Rothbard’s trenchant and brilliant historical analysis. He saw American history as the story of a tremendous power struggle between economic elites, between the House of Morgan and the Rockefeller interests. But as Rothbard points out in his lead essay, it was an alliance of these two powers that foisted the disastrous Federal Reserve System on us early in the last century, orchestrated the First and Second World Wars, and prompted the creation of this nation’s income tax (and birthed the hideous Internal Revenue Service).

Is this a — gasp! — conspiracy book? You could say so. But as Justin Raimondo writes in his afterword to the book: “…it would be inaccurate to call the Rothbardian world view a ‘conspiracy theory.’ To say that the House of Morgan was engaged in a ‘conspiracy’ to drag the U.S. into World War I, when indeed it openly used every stratagem, every lever both economic and political, to push us into ‘the war to end all wars,’ seems woefully inadequate. This was not some secret cabal meeting in a soundproof corporate boardroom, but a ‘conspiracy’ of ideas openly and vociferously expressed. … Here there is no single agency, no omnipotent central committee that issues directives, but a multiplicity of interest groups and factions whose goals are generally congruent.”

Many left-wing intellectuals would call the members of these interest groups “capitalists.” But Rothbard reveals that the biggest “capitalists” have never been friends of true capitalism (i.e., a free market). In particular, he says, bankers — both commercial and investment — are inherently statist. Every leap forward in economic planning and centralization, Rothbard shows, has been supported, and often initiated, by the biggest and most politically powered business interests in the country. Writes Raimondo: “The House of Morgan, the Rockefellers, and the Kuhn-Loebs must take their place alongside the First, Second, and Third Internationals as the historic enemies of liberty.”

As long as the U.S. rattles sabers worldwide, Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy should be read by anyone puzzled about why things are as they are — and why they have been that way for more than a century.