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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

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  •  
    Deven Bhan Madison,SD 10-23-15
    Deven Bhan Madison,SD 10-23-15
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    "Why Nations Fail : Why I gave 5 star to this book"
    Where does Why Nations Fail rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It so far the best book on ecomomics and world history I have read.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    This book presents an amazing account of world history vis a vis evolution and growth or decline of societies, countries empires. . The authors have worked hard for many years to collect data and analyze to come up with a credible theory on prosperity or poverty of nations.

    This book remove many of my ideas that used to have. For example I had the misconception that geography,race, work ethic and climate were some of the reasons why some nations are perpetually poor.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blue Tooth Rochester, NY 09-13-15
    Blue Tooth Rochester, NY 09-13-15 Member Since 2011

    technogeek

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If you want to understand what works when trying to make the world a more equitable place, start here."

    What is especially good about this book are the new lenses it employs to help us understand history and the wealth of nations. It doesn't focus on political ideology or economic dogmas. The actions of the left, right, Christian or Muslim are equal. Greed and shortsightedness know no cultural, political or religious boundaries. Timing and maybe luck are important and very little was inevitable.

    It clarifies the battle we face now in our country as our elite use increasing wealth to make our institutions more extractive .

    There's no magic prescription for curing our problems but this book makes it much easier to recognize what will not work and what will make things worse.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    ALEJANDRO VAZQUEZ FARRERA 09-13-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Great theory. Too repetitive."

    Great sound theory of why nations fail, however I found the chapters to be quite repetitive around the same idea. This book could be half as long to make its point.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cortney Willa 07-03-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Once is not enough!"

    Can't wait to listen to it again from start to finish! Incredibly informative, well organized and interesting- and expertly delivered in audible format.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nater662 03-04-15
    Nater662 03-04-15 Listener Since 2009
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    "Must Read "

    Every Econ or PoliSci student should read this book. They present their theory in great detail.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anja Schmidt Denmark 02-08-15
    Anja Schmidt Denmark 02-08-15 Member Since 2006

    k11923

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    "Great analysis"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Why Nations Fail to be better than the print version?

    Perhaps.


    Any additional comments?

    I think, this book comes around to a very likely conclusion.
    It effectively analyses why many other suggestions about this may be wrong. Very enligthening and highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ramiro E. Prudencio 11-05-14 Member Since 2016
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    "A big book with big ideas - loved it"
    Where does Why Nations Fail rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anand Bangalore, India 10-04-14
    Anand Bangalore, India 10-04-14 Member Since 2015
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    "This may / may not be the book for you.."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    julian washington, DC, United States 03-07-14
    julian washington, DC, United States 03-07-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Astonishing Read. Loved it."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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.


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

    Guns, Germs, Steel. Rational Optimist. Ascent of Money.


    Which character – as performed by Dan Woren – was your favorite?

    Well narrated. Great reader.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Menifee, CA, United States 02-27-14
    Ted Menifee, CA, United States 02-27-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Why some countries are prosperous but most are not"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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