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The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It | [Paul Collier]

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It

Paul Collier reveals that 50 failed states - home to the poorest one billion people on earth - pose the central challenge of the developing world in the 21st century. The book shines much-needed light on this group of small nations, largely unnoticed by the industrialized West, that are dropping further and further behind the majority of the world's people, often falling into an absolute decline in living standards.
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Publisher's Summary

In the universally acclaimed and award-winning The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier reveals that 50 failed states - home to the poorest one billion people on earth - pose the central challenge of the developing world in the 21st century. The book shines much-needed light on this group of small nations, largely unnoticed by the industrialized West, that are dropping further and further behind the majority of the world's people, often falling into an absolute decline in living standards.

A struggle rages within each of these nations between reformers and corrupt leaders - and the corrupt are winning. Collier analyzes the causes of failure, pointing to a set of traps that ensnare these countries, including civil war, a dependence on the extraction and export of natural resources, and bad governance. Standard solutions do not work, he writes; aid is often ineffective, and globalization can actually make matters worse, driving development to more stable nations.

What the bottom billion need, Collier argues, is a bold new plan supported by the Group of Eight industrialized nations. If failed states are ever to be helped, the G8 will have to adopt preferential trade policies, new laws against corruption, new international charters, and even conduct carefully calibrated military interventions. Collier has spent a lifetime working to end global poverty. In The Bottom Billion, he offers real hope for solving one of the great humanitarian crises facing the world today.

©2008 Paul Collier; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Set to become a classic. Crammed with statistical nuggets and common sense, his book should be compulsory reading." (The Economist)
"If Sachs seems too saintly and Easterly too cynical, then Collier is the authentic old Africa hand: he knows the terrain and has a keen ear.... If you've ever found yourself on one side or the other of those arguments -and who hasn't? - then you simply must read this book." (Niall Ferguson, The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (68 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 01-31-10
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 01-31-10 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "no easy fix"

    Collier lays out a comprehensive survey of what has caused this situation and the challenges of bringing solutions to it. Many of his research based observations are initially counter intuitive, until you get to hear about the bizarre incentives to good as well as bad behavior. Solid narration.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig C. austin, TX United States 06-13-10
    Craig C. austin, TX United States 06-13-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great use of data"

    Great use of data. It would have been nice to have shown some of the raw data.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Motes Tampa 01-03-14
    Sam Motes Tampa 01-03-14 Listener Since 2009

    Audible obsessed lifelong learner.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Blueprint to close the gap"

    I read The Bottom Billion over a year ago but saw it cheap on Audible since I own the kindle version and decided to give it another listen. Talks about the gap between the developed economies versus those with citizens from the bottom billion of the poorest people on the planet and why the gap is expanding instead of narrowing. The traps include resource trap, land locked trap, conflict trap (military coup prone), unstable neighbors trap, etc. They also are impacted by adverse migration patterns that often lead to a brain drain of the talent that could help pull the country out of the economic morass leaving for green pastures in developed countries. The traps form a perfect storm for much of Africa and explains much of the economic struggles there. Collier discusses options to help close the gap starting with the common response that has limited impact of direct aid through more impactful tactics that could truly help.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jon salem, OR, United States 10-23-13
    jon salem, OR, United States 10-23-13
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    "Impressive yet conservatively based"
    Would you listen to The Bottom Billion again? Why?

    This book has so many amazing statistics to teach about the reality of the current economic model, drawing from the past and projecting into the future. Personally, I feel that a more creative interpretation would be beneficial to "unsticking" the bottom billion by cross-pollinating economics and politics with humanities and philosophy. For example, why not suggest restructuring the military of developed countries to primarily aid the bottom billion by supporting their infrastructure during ecological crisis as well as socio-economic. This restructuring of the current system (first from the top and then to bottom) supports it's growth by making space and eliminating what is outdated and no longer useful.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gare&Sophia Alexandria, VA, United States 07-19-13
    Gare&Sophia Alexandria, VA, United States 07-19-13 Member Since 2007

    Private intellectual, writer, and retired academic. Currently R&D director for Gravitational Systems Engineering, Inc.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Is poverty a disease or a wound?"

    I really enjoyed this, primarily UN centric, treatment of the hidden realities of that group of people who rarely make the news. If you're an international traveler, these are the people that you see walking in the broiling sun, or begging on the side of the road.

    Yet, the book is hopeful in offering new solutions, some that may interest business people such as low end insurance products.

    Overall this book was compelling, and interesting from start to finish.

    Gare Henderson

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Natalie DURHAM, NC, United States 01-30-12
    Natalie DURHAM, NC, United States 01-30-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Very good use of empirical evidence"
    What made the experience of listening to The Bottom Billion the most enjoyable?

    It was an interesting rationale on why poverty is cyclical.


    Would you recommend The Bottom Billion to your friends? Why or why not?

    Yes it is a strong body of research that lends an idea to why countries have a difficult time developing their economies.


    What about Gideon Emery’s performance did you like?

    It was fair, he seemed to enjoy telling the story.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I enjoyed the portion that offered solutions to the challenges faced by impoverished nations


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-6 of 6 results
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  • Steve
    Stockport, United Kingdom
    8/1/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Thought provoking and inspirational"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes I would recommend this audiobook.

    There are some striking observations about poverty and the four 'traps' which leave a section of the worlds population in the 'bottom billion' with little chance of escaping. It explains how the plight of the bottom billion affect us all and consider the factors that maintain the current position then examines why this is the case - e.g. assessment of development aid, why this is so important and yet is only part of the solution; assessment of international government policies and why they tend to hinder rather than help progress. Finally the book has many profound suggestions which could help close the gap for the bottom billion and minimise the prospect of the four traps.

    It is well researched with plenty of examples to back up the hypothesis.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Lots of interesting examples of how the world views the bottom billion, and how certain key players (e.g. Governments, Aid industry, Global businesses) behave in a way that is sometimes counter-intuitive.


    What about Gideon Emery’s performance did you like?

    Easy to listen to- informative and at a good pace.


    Any additional comments?

    An inspirational book with great ideas to change the world. Astounding to think this was written in 2007 - change seems to be slow since then with much of what is written here still applicable today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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