This article unfortunately cited Reinhart and Rogoff but it is a beautiful discussion about the history of debt.

They argue that private debt, not public debt is what is crippling Western countries and will continue to undermine any recovery.

But the ten million Americans at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure, or recent graduates who cannot qualify for mortgages because of their monthly payments on college loans, have become modern debt-peons. At the same time entire economies abroad, indentured to past debts, find themselves in a metaphoric debtors’ prison where they can neither repay creditors nor resume productive livelihoods.