Topper Jones

Why This Book? Why Now? The Motivation Behind All that Glisters

“You know,” my wife said, “you should write a blog post about Why This Book? and Why Now? Readers want to know.”

She had a point. And so that’s what this week’s post is about—My motivation for writing All that Glisters. Along the way, I’ll explain why wheelbarrow economics scares the bejeebers out of me. Hence, the cute little illustration below that I collaged together.

Wheelbarrow of cash
Composite Photo Credit:

It’s no “spoiler alert” to say gold—the nations’ gold to be precise—is at the heart of All that Glisters (ATG). It’s central, splashed across the novel’s cover, and an essential part of the tease in the blurb pasted on the back of the book.

24-carat gold. Bullion size. Four hundred troy ounces per bar.

Back in 1977 when I had the idea for ATG, gold was $160 an ounce. When I penned the first draft in 1982-83, gold had moved up to $450. And when I launched into the rewrite in 2017, gold had almost tripled to $1,250. As of this writing, gold is now a solid $1,928 an ounce, rising 430% since I first put pencil to page.

Why the run-up in the price of the precious metal?

Folks worry their paper currency may become worthless. And so, they buy gold as a hedge against inflation.

In June 2022, U.S. inflation peaked at 9.1%. At least according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Rapidly rising prices scare people. Me included. I lived through the 1980s. I remember the hot mess of an economy, the unhinged markets. Inflation surging to 16%. Gas prices doubling. And mortgage interest rates hitting an all-time high of 18%.

Voters demanded action. Washington responded. Eventually, the inflation dragon was tamed—for the time being.

Little-known Fact: In the scramble to deflate the monetary bubble before it took a wheelbarrow of greenbacks to buy a loaf of bread, President Reagan established the First Gold Commission (Gold I). The task force: A 17-member bipartisan panel of experts. The mission: Tame inflation. The strategy: Bring the U.S. closer to a metal-backed currency. (See the web link at the end of this post for the Commission’s findings.)

The Story Continues

My novel All that Glisters picks up where the First Gold Commission left off. In the here and now. What if, in the run-up to a return of 80s-style inflation, a Second Gold Commission is empaneled? What would that look like? And what could possibly go wrong?

ATG is part cautionary tale, part fire alarm. Until the politicians in Washington DC can learn to live within their means, inflation will always be a stomach-churn. Rampant inflation a threat.

Today, the national debt stands at $32.7 trillion. That means every man, woman, and child in the U.S. of A. is on the hook for close to $97,500 each. Tomorrow the numbers, which seem to be on autopilot, will only be bigger. Solving the problem of unbridled spending by turning on the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing presses scares the bejeebers out of me. I’ve lived through runaway inflation. I’ve seen the impact firsthand.

One-peso Ley

In my early twenties, I spent two years in Argentina from 1969 to 1971. During that time grocery and gas prices doubled every three weeks. At one point, the hyperinflation was so bad the Argentine government officially withdrew all the currency in circulation and devalued it overnight.

One day you had a 100-pesos bill. The next day the government had overprinted that same bill as “1 peso ley” or 1 peso by law. Other than Monopoly money, I had never seen anything so colorfully worthless. In such an economy, the only way to cope was to be paid not weekly, not every two weeks, nor monthly but at the end of the day. Definitely, no way to run a country. The uncertainty was primal.

Argentine one-peso ley

A Scary Souvenir

I kept one reissued bill as a souvenir. It’s a daily reminder of how those in charge of the currency can so mismanage the money you carry in your wallet that they plunge the country into a financial apocalypse. Savings wiped out. Bank failures. Wrenching recessions leading to joblessness. Hunger in the streets. Shanty towns popping up in every vacant lot.


It doesn’t have to be that way.

Stable currency isn’t a pipe dream.

Avoiding economic insecurity will take dialogue. And resolve.

Photo of hourglass with caption
Photo Credit: anncapictures (

It’s Not Too Late

I’ve written All that Glisters to be entertaining—a mystery with plenty of action—but my hope...what I would love to see that the story becomes a conversation starter about the risk of hyperinflation.

As my Dad, an enrolled agent with the IRS, used to say, “Inflation is a tax that no one ever votes for.”

It’s not too late to correct course in this country. 

There’s got to be a way.

Our children and children’s children deserve better!

Further Exploration

For the inside story on the First U.S. Gold Commission’s findings, check out the Report to the Congress of the Commission on the Role of Gold in the Domestic and International Monetary Systems. Web address:

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