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Publisher's Summary

An important book for turbulent times-an accessible and engaging economic history of the world, by a leading economic writer.

Alan Beattie has long been intrigued by the fates of different countries, economies, and societies-why some fail and some succeed. Here, he weaves together elements of economics, history, politics, and human stories, revealing that societies, economies, and countries usually make concrete choices that determine their destinies. He opens up larger questions about these choices, and why countries make them or are driven to make them, and what those decisions can mean for the future of our global economy.

Economic history involves forcing together disciplines that fall naturally in different directions. But Beattie has written a lively and lucid book that successfully marries the two subjects and illustrates their interdependence. In doing so, he addresses such illuminating queries as: Why are oil and diamonds more trouble than they are worth? Why did Argentina fail and the United States succeed? Why doesn't Africa grow cocaine?

False Economy explains how human beings have shaped their own fates, however unknowingly, and the conditions of the countries they call home. And though it is history, it does not end with the present day. Beattie shows how decisions that are being made now-which have either absorbed or failed to absorb the lessons from economic history-will determine what happens in the future. What does economic history teach us about the present economic unrest? Who will succeed and why? And who will fail? These are questions that we cannot afford to leave unasked . . . or unanswered.

©2009 Alan Beattie (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
  • Jerry
  • United States
  • 11-27-10

Excellent

Many historical explanations and comparisons. I was looking for a book to teach me something, not to indoctrinate me into the 'Chicago school' or other bias. This book will help you come to your own conclusions on what works and what fails in economies and why.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Superb

If you like reading the Economist (and I do), you will love False Economy. Popular economic history in all the best ways. The big question is always, why are some countries so rich and some countries so poor? Beattie takes on this big question, answering lots of smaller questions along the way. His basic answers have to do with choices and institutions, a thesis he explores while teaching us why Argentina did not get rich, oil is more trouble than it is worth (usually), why cocaine is not grown in Africa, and why we pay so much for Peruvian asparagus (and subsidize rich American peanut growers).

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Horrible narration

I enjoy behavioural economics and history genres so thought this would be a great book... was I mistaken. The narration was HORRIBLE. It sounds like a bad voice over from some 1970's filmstrip in high school science class. There's frequent awkward intonation and many mispronounced words (i.e. eschew is "ess - CHEW"). The content is dry, but, when your mind isn't wandering off due to the narration, there are some interesting chapters most notably on the spurious correlation of religion to successful economies. DO NOT mistake this book for Gladwell, or Arielly, or Dubner/Levitt; it is not as well written and not nearly as engaging.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Aden
  • LAFAYETTE, CO, United States
  • 10-18-11

False Delivery: A Surprisingly Painful Audio Book

The more audio books I listen to, the more I am able to quickly recognize quality. The narration of this book is painful. Johnson plows over lines and swallows the delivery--almost like a priest telling a joke about a midget, a stripper, and a can of Spam. The narration could be excused if the text itself wasn't a disjointed, grabasstic historical montage in need of Ritalin and an outline. Hard to follow. Hard to swallow. I've heard better theories on bar stools delivered through the pickled ponderings of a sauced sages.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary-Anne
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 10-18-11

Good economic lessons, entertainingly illustrated

The book illustrates how "the tyranny of the status quo", the tyranny of vested interests, and the tyranny of individual rulers has shaped economies, with stories from different places and different times. The book casts a broad sweep. I found it entertaining and informative from start to finish.

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  • Stephen
  • ATLANTA, GA, United States
  • 09-23-11

Poor performance

I am not disappointed in the book as I am unable to hear i due to poor unfriendly execution on Amazon Audio platform. I purchased this for school and have not been able to have access to it.