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)
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.
Same old poly sci stuff. Same old concepts repackaged without any genuine insight. Could not force myself to finish it.
It appears that the authors like the US and this book is propaganda disguised as scholarly research meant to justify and also downplay US Imperialism. It glosses over the fact that not just some, but all of the natural resources the US enjoys to this day are the result of a massive theft. Much of the labor used to found the US was done by slaves. Much of the labor performed to this day is done by women and minorities who get paid decidedly less to do the same jobs as white men. I say these things not to criticize Americans or anything like that, but to highlight the ridiculousness of a theory of wealth/economics/freedom etc that doesn't address reality. This theory may be scholarly success and a hit with the ivory tower crowd, but its not useful or enlightening to anyone looking for truth.
Listening to this book first allowed me to absorb the big over riding concepts in a relaxed manner. This also allowed me to appreciate the consistently high quality of writing style. I bought the book after listening to it in its entirety so I could reference some of the minutiae of this important work
About two chapters in you realize this is an important piece of scholarship that points the study of politics and the science of economics in new directions.
Yes. The perfect voice for this work.
The history of extractive elites resisting the evolution of inclusive democracies
Yes. It's informative and well reasoned, with an interesting survey of history told within the context of the book's central argument. It's not the sort of book that you can half pay attention to, even though many of the points are repeated a few times.
Why nations succeed :)
Clarity of the importance of freedom to create wealth for all!
I think they are correct on China! You only get some wealth for the elites when you do not have political freedom
Traveler. Artist. Dreamer.
This is an amazing overview of why certain nations are prosperous and why certain nations are not. The research on this must have not been easy, but the thesis seems to be supported with many examples. I am curious to see if the predictions will come to pass. It is not the most interesting book in the world at certain times and a bit repetitive, but if you like history and like to see why things prosper, you will like this book.
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