Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine?
Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?
Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?
Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities. The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions - with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.
Based on 15 years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today, including:
Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at—and understand—the world.
©2012 Daron Acemoglu (P)2012 Random House
"Why Nations Fail is a truly awesome book. Acemoglu and Robinson tackle one of the most important problems in the social sciences - a question that has bedeviled leading thinkers for centuries - and offer an answer that is brilliant in its simplicity and power. A wonderfully readable mix of history, political science, and economics, this book will change the way we think about economic development. Why Nations Fail is a must-read book." (Steven Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics)
"You will have three reasons to love this book: It’s about national income differences within the modern world, perhaps the biggest problem facing the world today. It’s peppered with fascinating stories that will make you a spellbinder at cocktail parties - such as why Botswana is prospering and Sierra Leone isn’t. And it’s a great read. Like me, you may succumb to reading it in one go, and then you may come back to it again and again." (Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of the best sellers Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse)
"A compelling and highly readable book. And [the] conclusion is a cheering one: The authoritarian ‘extractive’ institutions like the ones that drive growth in China today are bound to run out of steam. Without the inclusive institutions that first evolved in the West, sustainable growth is impossible, because only a truly free society can foster genuine innovation and the creative destruction that is its corollary." (Niall Ferguson, author of The Ascent of Money)
For anyone who is curious about why wealth and advancement takes place in some countries, while fails to do so in others. The book takes a historic view of economic and political development, contrasts all corners of the globe, and provides rich context. One learns new things and questions long-held assumptions. Critically important reading to understand our world, especially the challenge of raising standards of living for all.
Why nations fail is a fascinating book . I have been intrigued by the distribution of wealth around the world and have been seeking answers. While I picked up jared Diamond's book I dont think I got anywhere close to the answer.
In my opinion this book nails the reason for economic disparity. The key words are pluralism, inclusive, economic, political systems.
While this book nails it; it may not be the right book for you. The authors take several examples and go through each one of them in excruciating details. Now if history is your cup of team then sure you would enjoy this book; else the key messages of inclusive political and economical institutions are repeated throughout the remainder of the book.
One of the best books I've read in years. If you liked Guns, Germs, Steel... you will love this sweeping look at economic history. Enlightening and extremely thought provoking, punctuated by fascinating examples of why nations fail and succeed from all points in human history and across all continents.
Guns, Germs, Steel. Rational Optimist. Ascent of Money.
Well narrated. Great reader.
I have traveled since my youth and have speculated for many years about the reasons that we (USA) have it all and most of the world has so little. Everyone seems to have a ready explanation- tropical diseases, cultural deficiencies, native flora and fauna unsuitable for domestication, environmental devastation, or exploitation of the poor countries by the wealthy ones. Although some of these factors certainly play a role, there are counter-examples that disarm them all in in many cases. I am convinced that this book has an explanation that stands up in just about every case. Further, it is an explanation that squares with evidence readily observable during one's own travel. Although the explanation offered here is generalized and must by qualified for each specific case, I can enthusiastically recommend the book as a thoughtful overview of this important question.
This is my top book - ever. I'm an immigrant to the US and read one book a week, and over 30 years that's a lot of books. I'm not sure that this book will be so compelling for US born Americans - but it certainly could be. Comprehensive and complete. Maybe a little long and disjointed for some listeners - but not for me. I loved every moment! Go Brazil!
Perhaps "The man who loved China"... or "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World" - both of which explored sweeping changes throughout history. This book is more though - it exposes the interweaving social systems that cause history to unfold as it does
Dan is a non obtrusive narrator. A master of the craft.
No. Too many sections and stories to savor and digest.
I have 3 teenagers - and these 2 landmark books - "Why Nations Fail" and "Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture" would be my first 2 additions to their "education". I know better than to suggest them though (the education of parents through experience :)
Book repeats itself again & again. Authors need an editor to trim all that verbiage & trash those unnecessary sentences. A reader's digest condensed version should make this book readable.
Learn to write more pithily.
Came highly recommended but quite disappointing. Beats each point to death. Redundant reiteration of summary point to ad nauseam.
I like to listen on what makes nations work. This book covers that subject from an economic perspective.
Great insight based upon historical examples. Explains what no one else (to my knowledge) has even attempted. It is a "Politically Correct" explanation of the incredible failures of countries and their stagnation over centuries and millenia. It does NOT put a feel-good "liberal" slant on the clear facts of history. A very long book that flows through history!
Very encompassing in that it covers all civilizations and eras. Does not compromise the facts and principles presented. I kept expecting a "surrender" for Mao, Chavez, Liberals, Socialists, Democrats, etc., The authors stuck to principles without pulling punches, or compromising, and did it very professionally without degrading the idiots and marauders of history or their present day acolytes.
Pace, understanding ... no mistakes
The Preceding History that Led to Atlas Shrugged
Outstanding effort of time and intellect of the authors is GREATLY APPRECIATED!
The book explains in a very interesting way why it is so difficult to change the course of history of a society or country. It explains how the West was lucky to break free from the standard of history - oppressive and exploitative regimes. And tells you that you should not expect that an authoritative place will change for the just because there was a popular revolution or successful invasion.
What struck me was that this book seemed balanced. No doubt many will say that the author has some kind of agenda but I did not get that impression. Yes he is a commited capitalist with liberatian views, but he kept them checked. This is a fresh look at why nations fail, recommended.
I intend to listen to this again. There is so much information that a second reading would be essential in a few months. However, this will be more of a duty than a pleasure because I often found the reading style irritating.
This is a unique book. I have read (or tried to read) other books on economic theory but none so readable and in my opinion, none so based in the real world.
Dan Woren did not do a good job. He got through the admittedly difficult concepts well enough but became gratingly irritating with the many non-English pronunciations. He started off reading Spanish words and names so authentically that I had trouble making out some of them, he then tried to pronounce African or Arabic names with a slight Spanish accent, obviously thinking that this would make it more authentic--it did not and it often resulted in the emphasis going on to the wrong parts of the words. When he got to the Chinese names, Woren gave up altogether and used the standard English approximations. The result was a ridiculous patchwork which reduced the effectiveness of what the authors had to say. The various subjects of this book's focus range all over the world and since Woren obviously does not have a comprehensive command (or even knowledge) of the huge variety of languages involved--and I cannot blame him for that--he should have stuck to a uniform English pronunciation throughout. I cannot say, though, whether this was Woren's fault or the director's. Certainly the director has to bear some of the responsibility for this mish-mash.
the mystery of poverty explained...
I'm glad I heard it.
"too long and repetitive"
I suppose it is repeating so that the listener gets the message.
they repeat the message so much that I got sick of hearing it.
but because it gives so many answers I give it 5 stars.
he held my attention.
stop trade protectionism.
"Disappointing and painfully boring"
I usually do not write negative reviews but having listened to the whole book, I am surprised of the positive reviews. Perhaps it would have been different if I was to read the printed version, where I would have been able to skim read through some of the chapters. Most of all, I found this book extremely boring to listen to, very repetitive, and what I distaste the most is that the logic was flawed, and wrong. The author was drawing conclusion and assumptions, using historical events and facts, but jumping from one country to the other, and one age to another, with no particular connection, order or timeline. The action-consequence link is missing, and although I cannot vouch for all of the historical references, but some of them were either biased, or not completely the true account of events for that age. It is true that the author is merely presenting a theory, and perhaps there is some evidence to support that extractive vs inclusive institutional arrangements bear great influence on the progress or decline of nations. But it felt like he was picking a number of historical references, not necessarily linked, but just because they were convenient to use as examples. Examples do not make for a theory, it is the logic that holds a theory together! I am willing to accept some of his valid assumptions. However, because of the flaws in his logic and evidence, the bias of his Americanized point of view, and because he did not take into account a number of factors, apart from political and economic, such as socio-cultural, which are of as much importance, I could not make myself to side with his theory.
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