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)
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.
Guns, Germs, Steel. Rational Optimist. Ascent of Money.
Well narrated. Great reader.
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.
This is my top book - ever. I'm an immigrant to the US and read one book a week, and over 30 years that's a lot of books. I'm not sure that this book will be so compelling for US born Americans - but it certainly could be. Comprehensive and complete. Maybe a little long and disjointed for some listeners - but not for me. I loved every moment! Go Brazil!
Perhaps "The man who loved China"... or "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World" - both of which explored sweeping changes throughout history. This book is more though - it exposes the interweaving social systems that cause history to unfold as it does
Dan is a non obtrusive narrator. A master of the craft.
No. Too many sections and stories to savor and digest.
I have 3 teenagers - and these 2 landmark books - "Why Nations Fail" and "Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture" would be my first 2 additions to their "education". I know better than to suggest them though (the education of parents through experience :)
Great insight based upon historical examples. Explains what no one else (to my knowledge) has even attempted. It is a "Politically Correct" explanation of the incredible failures of countries and their stagnation over centuries and millenia. It does NOT put a feel-good "liberal" slant on the clear facts of history. A very long book that flows through history!
Very encompassing in that it covers all civilizations and eras. Does not compromise the facts and principles presented. I kept expecting a "surrender" for Mao, Chavez, Liberals, Socialists, Democrats, etc., The authors stuck to principles without pulling punches, or compromising, and did it very professionally without degrading the idiots and marauders of history or their present day acolytes.
Pace, understanding ... no mistakes
The Preceding History that Led to Atlas Shrugged
Outstanding effort of time and intellect of the authors is GREATLY APPRECIATED!
The book explains in a very interesting way why it is so difficult to change the course of history of a society or country. It explains how the West was lucky to break free from the standard of history - oppressive and exploitative regimes. And tells you that you should not expect that an authoritative place will change for the just because there was a popular revolution or successful invasion.
What struck me was that this book seemed balanced. No doubt many will say that the author has some kind of agenda but I did not get that impression. Yes he is a commited capitalist with liberatian views, but he kept them checked. This is a fresh look at why nations fail, recommended.
Dispelled so many conventional theories about why certain peoples live in national failure and poverty while others enjoy freedom and the luxury of goods and services. Their explanations of the nuances that create these differences are founded in extensive and responsible research.
Civilization by Niall Ferguson.
The comparisons and contrasts on North and South America, and what led to these differences, is original work. They do the same to certain areas of Africa with amazing insight.
It is a very long book, but it didn't feel so. Every morning, I was eager to get out of the bed and traffic jam didn't annoy me at all until I finished listening to the book.
This book confirms my believe that success or failure of nations and organisations has nothing to do with geography. It has to do with the systems that you setup.
I think the title is more negative than the book itself. In trying to explain failure of nations, it provides so many positive examples of nations that have succeeded.I think the most appropriate title is:Why Nations Fail or Succeed.
It focuses mainly on nations, but I find the lessons applicable to businesses as well. The challenge for me as an entrepreneur is to setup businesses that are not "extractive" in nature.
I have to come back to the details and cases that the book provides. It provides an extraordinary historical review and proving cases.
I do not think that the book can be compared to any other I have read in this area.
A simple and straightforward historical review and success/failure that can describe nations success.
This book should be an amazing documentary which should be mandatory of viewing by each US Senator and Representative to understand how their decision making can impact the future of our country.
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