Many of the most famous figures in the financial revolutions of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries were Scottish or Irish. William Patterson, the founder of the Bank of England, and John Law, the animator of the Mississippi Company, were Scots. Richard Cantillon, Law’s banker, from Kerry became a foundational theorist in political economy. Jonathan Swift, author of A Modest Proposal (Dublin, 1729), the most trenchant critique of emergent capitalism, was the Dean of St. Patricks in Dublin. The institutions of the fiscal-military state, born of the financial revolution, were ubiquitous in the two countries. Military roads from this period still cross the Scottish Highlands; barracks and other military installations are still striking features of Irish towns and cities. Yet the idea of financial revolutions, following related but different paths, has only lately become an important theme in research.

Walsh’s admirable book forms part of an interesting and important...

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