Books: What happens when the dollar collapses?

This book's Doomsday scenario may be overwrought, but it should alert us to real economic dangers, says Anthony Hilton.

In the depths of the Cold War in the 1960s, the fashion was for books and films on how to survive a nuclear attack. Civilians were instructed to shelter under the stairs inside tents soaked in urine - no mean feat in itself, given people would have only four minutes' warning. Subsequently, they had to live on their stockpiled cans of sardines while learning how to grow vegetables under awnings that should protect them from the radiation fallout. The result was not what the authors intended.

Whether these ideas would have worked was beside the point anyway. The picture painted of life in the nuclear winter was so bleak that no-one wanted to survive.

Today the fashion is for books about the coming economic rather than nuclear cataclysm. The latest - Jim Mellon and Al Chalabi's Wake Up! - sets itself apart, however, by telling its readers not only that bad times are just around the corner, but also what they should do to prepare for and survive a global economic depression, which, they predict, will be far more painful even than anything experienced in the 1930s.

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