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Why Nations Fail Audiobook

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

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Publisher's Summary

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:

  • China has built an authoritarian growth machine. Will it continue to grow at such high speed and overwhelm the West?
  • Are America’s best days behind it? Are we moving from a virtuous circle in which efforts by elites to aggrandize power are resisted to a vicious one that enriches and empowers a small minority?
  • What is the most effective way to help move billions of people from the rut of poverty to prosperity? More philanthropy from the wealthy nations of the West? Or learning the hard-won lessons of Acemoglu and Robinson’s breakthrough ideas on the interplay between inclusive political and economic institutions?

Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at—and understand—the world.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2012 Daron Acemoglu (P)2012 Random House

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Damion Brown 05-08-16 Member Since 2013
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    "pragmatic theory on growth differentials"

    Anybody interested in the policy steps necessary to improve growth and social mobility within developing countries should read this book. It identifies the main underlying determinants as to why some areas have become rich, by lookig at the institutional framework rather than the specific policy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Francisco Madrid, Spain 05-07-16
    Francisco Madrid, Spain 05-07-16 Member Since 2007

    MD, PhD. Currently I'm Professor of Human Anatomy & Neuroscience at the Autonoma University School of Medicine in Madrid, Spain.

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    "A vaccine of clear-thinking"
    Any additional comments?

    A thoughtful, rigorously argued --and very readable!-- Economic History work by MIT professors Acemoglu and Robinson.Authors explore world history from the Neolithic to the present to support a central thesis: Equity is efficiency. Successful societies are the result of egalitarian institutions that allow the exercise of individual rights by everyone and competition based on performance.A vaccine of clear-thinking against both "realist" fatalism and revolutionary messianism. It should be compulsory reading for politicians (and for intellectuals at large) in Latin American and Southern European countries, including mine...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James McDonough 05-03-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Interesting how economic institutions shape us."

    Interesting read on this authors perspective on how economic institutions shape our world. Worth the read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Swart 04-30-16
    Peter Swart 04-30-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Great story telling and insights"

    Very insightful coverage of events covering the globe and many centuries. Loved how development across cultures are summarized.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-13-16 Member Since 2016
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    "great"

    a different view with a global historical basis, sometimes a little confusing, but it worth the time

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Csillaxej 04-13-16
    Csillaxej 04-13-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of my favourites"
    Would you listen to Why Nations Fail again? Why?

    Yes, and I already did. Especially the summary and conclusion chapters at the beggining of the book are great, give such a good inishgt. The rest of the book is also very interesting, but there mainly for the cases when you are interested in all the small details. Otherwise the early chapters are the best.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The book gives a very wellr rounded and detailed explanation about the ways of the world today. Easy to follow, sound reasoning.


    Have you listened to any of Dan Woren’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Its ok, although its a "hard material" not being an actual story. He manages to keep the voice acting engaging though. Could certainly be worse :)


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom 04-07-16
    Tom 04-07-16 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I wish this would be read by the masses."

    I've always wondered why countries couldn't seem to get it together. They were never designed to is the answer. We have to look deeper than the title of democracy. That's not where the fight is happening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sphoorti 04-03-16
    sphoorti 04-03-16 Member Since 2016
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    "terrible book"
    What would have made Why Nations Fail better?

    The author seems to have a view theory in mind and applies it all over the world trying to prove the correctness of his theory. The treatment is shallow and unscientific. The booking is very boring. I gained no insights or knowledge from this audio book.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    20sbuyer 03-24-16
    20sbuyer 03-24-16
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    "Great book -- but bad audiobook"

    Really interesting content but too academic for an audiobook. The repetitive terms make it hard to follow. There isn't enough narrative or characters to work in this format.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Luis Ro 03-17-16
    Luis Ro 03-17-16 Member Since 2015
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    3
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    "Beyond Entertaining Mind Opening"

    Really enjoyed this book, telling the modern history of development and the why behind the industrialization and rapid growth of Western Nations all in an entertainingly fashion, this is almost Paradigm-Shifting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Demirep
    LONDON, England
    6/24/14
    Overall
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    Story
    "Fascinating stuff"
    Would you listen to Why Nations Fail again? Why?

    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.


    What other book might you compare Why Nations Fail to, and why?

    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.


    Did Dan Woren do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

    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.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    the mystery of poverty explained...


    Any additional comments?

    I'm glad I heard it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • M
    LONDON, United Kingdom
    12/28/13
    Overall
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    "too long and repetitive"
    If you could sum up Why Nations Fail in three words, what would they be?

    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.


    What does Dan Woren bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    he held my attention.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    stop trade protectionism.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Di
    8/4/14
    Overall
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    Story
    "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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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