At the dawn of the eighteenth century, England was running out of money due to a prolonged war with France. They turned to the stock market-- a relatively new invention itself. In the hub of London's stock market-- Exchange Alley-- the South Sea Company hatched a scheme to turn pieces of the national debt into shares of company stock. The financial revolution was subject to trial and error on a grand scale, with dramatic, sometimes devastating consequences for people's lives. Levenson chronicles the moment when the needs of war, discoveries of natural philosophy, and ambitions of investors collided.