The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson
I'm recommending we require all Eco/Fin majors by this and that we use chapters of it for all the appropriate classes. PBS has also made a documentary of it, so it'd be like using Commanding Heights.
Ferguson is a professor of history and business administration at Harvard. The book is indeed a history of finance and a history of the (Western) world through the lens of financial evolution. Published mid-2008, it gives a great overview of how we got to our current financial crisis and similarities to previous crises.
From the invention of fiat money causing the French Revolution, to microfinance combating poverty today, Ferguson does a great job tying everything together. In latter chapters he quotes (but also challenges) others I've read over the years, like Joe Stiglitz and Thomas Perkins. He also hails the merits of behavior finance and decries the "short-term capital mismanagement" of the quants at LTCM in the 90s.
Superbly done. 4.5 stars out of 5.