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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

4.4 (1341 )
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  •  
    Joe Labasz 06-29-16
    Joe Labasz 06-29-16 Member Since 2016
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    "would highly recommend."

    ideal for those who want to understand the news they see on Twitter and Facebook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Smarty San Francisco 06-09-16
    Smarty San Francisco 06-09-16
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    "Same thing over and over"

    Interesting but it seems to be a long article turned into a book. It is just the same thing over and over.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew R. Mattila Los Angeles, CA 05-31-16
    Matthew R. Mattila Los Angeles, CA 05-31-16 Member Since 2015

    mattmatt

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    "meh , extractive governments bad
    "

    was OK, cool premise but got old and repetitive. would have liked more nuance and discussion

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RGSCorp 05-31-16
    RGSCorp 05-31-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Availability biased. Also wrong about Brazil."

    Interesting theory's. No one can disagree that extractive institutions are extremely harmful.

    However the book is full of availability biases (authors should read Daniel Kahneman and Nassim Taleb's books).

    Authors were also proved completely wrong about Brazil's Lula trajectory. His government were an extreme version of extractive institutions under a skin of pluralistic marketing.

    The most important contribution the authors could have made was not covered: how to identify (at present) which are and are not extractive institutions. Of course, there is no definitive answer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Jacobsen-Steigerwald Beaverton, OR United States 05-24-16
    J. Jacobsen-Steigerwald Beaverton, OR United States 05-24-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Great on target concepts and ideas"

    Very enlightening. It really helps understand why nations fail. The book is s bit too long and hard to follow in audio. Suggest a condensed version in audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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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    2
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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
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  • Rami
    7/5/16
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    Performance
    Story
    "Well researched and incredibly informative."

    As a beginner to this topic this title answered nearly all of my questions comprehensively. a true eye opener. Definitely give this one a go.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • John
    5/10/16
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    "Highly misleading"

    Does not include the role developed countries play in undermining the development of inclusive institutions in developing countries post- independence (neo-colonialism)

    0 of 1 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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