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)
'Inclusive political institutions" is a phrase we are already beginning to hear from analysts in the media. We will hear it more. This work manages to weave a historical analysis of major and minor nations into a coherent explanation of economic success and failure. It might just lend new insight into our problems here and now. It has changed my own opinion in important ways.
Audible addict since 2003. High School librarian who has found her bliss!
One good idea does not a 500 page book make. This should have been firmly edited to half its length. Poor narration didn't help.
This is a very interesting topic but this book doesn't translate well to audio. I just can't get through it.
Not if it's a textbook.
The narrator is fine. The book needed to be edited and better organized for an audio format.
I know this book has received very positive reviews all over. And I know that the authors are accredited scholars on the subjects the book attempts to cover. However, I couldn't go as far as listening to the introduction.
Up to the point where I listened to, the book tries to convince you that successful economies got to the point where they are simply because their culture is a more entrepreneurial one. So, in contrast, not-so-successful economies are not as entrepreneurial.
I am not fond of any socialist school of thinking, but dismissing completely that some nations accumulated wealth by economically and/or politically influencing other regions of the world is too naive a view to start such a book with.
Maybe I'll give it another try some other day...
It allows one to look at our society and political system through a different lens.
a guide for inclusive democracy
It could have been half or a third the size. It's an awful lot of book for the number of ideas presented.
If you find "Free societies are more successful" to be a controversial statement, you might find reading this book worthwhile. If not, you probably won't learn anything from it except historical trivia.
It seemed at times almost as if the reader was carefully researching and going out of his way to mispronounce foreign names and phrases. When contrasted with the author's evident care to render foreign names correctly (surname first in Asian names), the effect was almost comical.
Mild indignation at the mispronounciations. Severe irritation at relentless parroting of the phrase "inclusive institutions".
Definitely top 3!
The whole thing. I'm going to have to listen to it again at least once.
Mexico's history. I live a mere couples hundred miles from there and never realized how and why things there are so different from things here.
This book is a must read/listen.
In March Daron Acemoglu (Introduction to Economic Growth) and James Robinson (Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy) released their latest book, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. The duo initially present various theories explaining just why some countries prosper and others do not. The authors approach culture, the weather, geography and simple development ignorance. They then present a model which they contend best describes this economic behavior. They present historical examples from over hundreds of years to illustrate their basic points. The book is well over 500 pages so there may be more here than the general reader will want to digest. Sometimes the books seems to meander a little bit, but that is just a personal impression. Ultimately, this is a valuable book particularly in this election year. In sum Acemoglu and Robinson say its institutions stupid. I’ll not give the details of their message away, but it will make you pause if you are from the USA. The narration of Dan Woren is a plus.
This book clearly explains how two countries or regions side by side geographically, with the same resources, the same culture, and the same population ethnicity can nevertheless be vastly different in output and wealth. It is one of the most useful books I have ever read. It is clearly written. It has lots of interesting examples. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys politics, economics, or history.
This book did a great job of allowing me to understand "why nations fail" It presents a logical and intelligent framework for viewing social history, without making specific predictions (save for a couple on China). Well worth the listen, even though for me, and 18 hour book needs to be done marathon style (1.5 weeks) or it will take a month or more to complete.
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