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)
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.
I would recommend the book, but not as an audio book. Why is it that readers assume we want a book read like a bad PBS skit just because it is a history book? Why nations fail is a well researched, interesting piece of work. Dan Woren reads it like a Mass in Latin, boring, monotone, painful. Please, please, please, find someone to read it that will not put me to sleep while I drive!
One of those books where you go back and re-listen when it is over. As I rode the train across the midwest I stared out the window and was completely mesmerized by the chain of history laid out and the results we live with today. Turned my assumptions about cultural and geographic advantages on its head, replaced them with the social and economic influences that are the motor of history.
Having just finished Graeber's "Debt", this book compliments the history of influences that make up modern nations, and shows the perils of the 1% face if left to their own devices.
If I hadn't heard an interview by the author on the Majority Report, I would have dismissed this book as another End Times screed I avoid. In reality the book is why economic systems rise and fall no matter the nationalistic or political trends. From socialistic dictatorships to ancient empires, the institutions we build determine the fate of nations.
I wish the authors had more to say of the upheavals in our own economy in recent times and the influences that brought us here, for instance for all the benefits of the Glorious Revolution in England, why are they now a nation in decline and austerity? I guess they as educators want us to draw our own conclusions about current events, dots are defiantly. being connected in my own mind.
Solid, steady narration that is meant to be read aloud.
The book was great in collecting examples throughout history that extractive political and economic institutions cause nations to fail. In some sense, it should be obvious. It's what libertarians have been saying for hundreds of years. The book gives examples after examples of how this has played out in history. However, the book stops short. Why are high taxes not an extractive political structure? Yes, you can have high taxes in a democratic society where the 80% take money by taxing the wealthier 20%. Why is that not an extractive poiltical structure? France is democratic and has just elected a president suggesting a 75% tax on the wealthy. French government spending is over 50% of GDP. Why do the authors attack China for having extractive economic and political institutions? Much of Europe is taxing like it is going out of style. Yes free markets always help. Free societies with clear property rights will do better. This is obvious. But why do the authors somehow stop short of questioning the big government tax and spend culture of much of the developed world? If somebody takes away 75% of your earnings, that's pretty extractive.
The authors provide an Interesting insight into exclusionary versus inclusionary societies. Plenty of historical and current examples provide support for their thesis that the most successful and sustainable societies are those that include more of their populations in decision making as well as a greater share of the economic pie. It???s an interesting view in light of a presidential election year casting a more inclusionary vision with an exclusionary one (albeit masked in propaganda of offering ???freedom??? in exchange for less government). With the US having become less and less a country of class/economic mobility, an educated electorate would do well to catch up on what???s happened historically as well as currently when a small percentage capture more and more of a country???s wealth and income.
'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.
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