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)
I studied economics and public policy in college, and I wish this book had been written back then. The authors show that a political and economic institutions - either inclusive or exclusive - should be the focal point in understanding why it has succeeded or failed. The evidence is compelling, and it made me change some previous held views and crystallized others. Five stars without a doubt.
It so far the best book on ecomomics and world history I have read.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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