What We Are Reading Today: American Bonds by Sarah L. Quinn

Updated 26 June 2019

What We Are Reading Today: American Bonds by Sarah L. Quinn

  • American Bonds examines the evolution of securitization and federal credit programs

Federal housing finance policy and mortgage-backed securities have gained widespread attention in recent years because of the 2008 financial crisis, but issues of government credit have been part of American life since the nation’s founding. 

From the 1780s, when a watershed national land credit policy was established, to the postwar foundations of our current housing finance system, American Bonds examines the evolution of securitization and federal credit programs. Sarah Quinn shows that since the Westward expansion, the US government has used financial markets to manage America’s complex social divides, and politicians and officials across the political spectrum have turned to land sales, home ownership, and credit to provide economic opportunity without the appearance of market intervention or direct wealth redistribution.

Highly technical systems, securitization, and credit programs have been fundamental to how Americans determined what they could and should owe one another. 

Over time, government officials embraced credit as a political tool that allowed them to navigate an increasingly complex and fractured political system, affirming the government’s role as a consequential and creative market participant. Neither intermittent nor marginal, credit programs supported the growth of powerful industries, from railroads and farms to housing and finance; have been used for disaster relief, foreign policy, and military efforts; and were promoters of amortized mortgages, lending abroad, venture capital investment, and mortgage securitization. Illuminating America’s market-heavy social policies, American Bonds illustrates how political institutions became involved in the nation’s lending practices.


What We Are Reading Today: Reptiles and Amphibians of New Zealand

Updated 28 February 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Reptiles and Amphibians of New Zealand

Authors: Dylan Van Winkel, Marleen Baling, and Rod Hitchmough

With more than 400 extraordinary color photographs and richly informative text, Reptiles and Amphibians of New Zealand is the definitive field guide to all of the country’s tuatara, geckos, skinks, frogs, marine turtles, and marine snakes.

From the ancient tuatara, the sole surviving member of its order, to the world’s largest collection of long-lived and live-bearing lizards, New Zealand’s reptiles and amphibians represent an extraordinary part of the country’s biodiversity. 

The only field guide to cover all of New Zealand’s 123 currently recognized species, the book features authoritative and up-to-date species accounts, including names and description, as well as information on distribution, variation and similar species, habitat, and natural history.

The book also provides a general introduction to these species, offering an overview of evolution, conservation, observing and collecting, ecosystems, and geographic history.

It contains more than 400 stunning new color photographs.