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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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©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

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (1523 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Harsh Pareek Austin, TX 04-26-17
    Harsh Pareek Austin, TX 04-26-17 Member Since 2016
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    36
    6
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    "Essential reading"

    I do not say this often but this book is a must read. The authors go over the more recent history of civilization, that post the dark ages of Europe and tackle the important question of why certain nations in Europe in particular and the world in general ended up prosperous. The key, they say, is having an appetite for creative destruction. Whenever one group becomes too powerful, they start molding political institutions so that their financial means are secure, at the cost of innovation. The authors say that the way to achieve this is via inclusive institutions like democracy.

    I considered docking a point for what I consider a lack of scholarship and intellectual integrity in this book. I found their critique of Guns Germs and steel and Why the west rules for now very lacking. Instead of realising that those books fundamentally talk about different time periods, and that some factors are stronger than other factors under different contexts, their argument against those books are quite facetious and makes me doubt that they even read those books. Similarly, they champion inclusive institutions a little too hard in this book. In many of their examples, there were obvious other factors which should have been stronger than their thesis, they handwave around instead of tackling the issue head on. This work is lacking in sincere scholarship, which is quite disappointing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ABDULHAKK JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia 04-10-17
    ABDULHAKK JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia 04-10-17 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Book"

    understanding why Nations fall is understanding why Nations fail.
    green and lack of economic institutes is on top of the pyramid.

    the book starts with the Arab Spring and then text you all over the world from the Maya in South America 2 North Korea South Asia and Africa.

    it's a long book but its worth while.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-01-17
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    7
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    "Excellent read, highly recommend"

    A great book highly recommend, provide an incredibly comprehensive look throughout history of the key factors and Nations succeeding or not, in an accessible and interesting manner. should be required reading for all students of Economics history international relations and development.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard M. 03-29-17
    Richard M. 03-29-17 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent"
    Any additional comments?

    This book gives a look at the world of pre industrial revolution to current and how policies and institutions have shaped it. This is one not to miss, no matter what your politics this book will give you a reason to reevaluate your preconceived notions of society

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Guðlaugur Guðmundsson Iceland 02-09-17
    Guðlaugur Guðmundsson Iceland 02-09-17 Member Since 2016

    I am 58 years old, I love to read, and listen to books. I live in Iceland. I am lucky I understand english very well.

    ratings
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    6
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    "Good book"

    Very interestingnbook, Inrealy enjoy listen to it, so má ný good imfirmation, so many new view on things

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 02-09-17
    David 02-09-17
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    REVIEWS
    3
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    "Long and hard to listen to at times."

    Very long and dry. Hard to follow at times. Last chapter was good but took a long time to get there. If you like detailed history, you may like this book. Narrator was this with pretty dry material. Overall, an average read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arno United State of America 01-23-17
    Arno United State of America 01-23-17 Member Since 2016
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    63
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    "Reaffirmed what I concluded during the years of studying and learning"

    Although the book is built on two pivotal concepts the construct is intelligent and substantiated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MARTIN CARNEY 10-16-16 Member Since 2017
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    9
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    "Systems analysis of political power."

    This visionary approach to understanding society is a must listen for all of humanity.

    It calls people across the world to take up their own reign of power and be represented in their society as no other can do for them.

    Why Nations Fail is sure to become the basis of a new understanding of the effects of government and the governed upon each other.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad 09-25-16
    Brad 09-25-16
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    1
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    "A good read"

    Very enjoyable read. I feel like I learned a great deal and appreciated the perspective given.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Land O Lakes, FL, United States 09-23-16
    James Land O Lakes, FL, United States 09-23-16 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Amazing historical and political insight ."

    This book reset my perspective of world history and the dynamics of societal success and failure.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • M
    LONDON, United Kingdom
    12/28/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "too long and repetitive"
    If you could sum up Why Nations Fail in three words, what would they be?

    I suppose it is repeating so that the listener gets the message.<br/>they repeat the message so much that I got sick of hearing it.<br/>but because it gives so many answers I give it 5 stars.<br/>


    What does Dan Woren bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    he held my attention.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    stop trade protectionism.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • rebecca
    8/8/16
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    "A book everyone should read/listen to"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    The complexities of how politics, economics , history and sociology affect the forming and falling of every nation on earth is explained in a way that is both easy to understand and engaging.<br/>Anyone who ever felt frustrated about the state of the world or baffle by politics should read this book which proves when it comes to nations it's not what you have but what you do that counts. <br/> Truly a masterpiece


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Why Nations Fail?

    learning that having too many natural resources (the curse of oil holds back most of middle east from innovation) can be damaging to a nation state


    What about Dan Woren’s performance did you like?

    the clear explanations were not patronising but informing


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Rami
    7/5/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well researched and incredibly informative."

    As a beginner to this topic this title answered nearly all of my questions comprehensively. a true eye opener. Definitely give this one a go.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • John
    5/10/16
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    Performance
    Story
    "Highly misleading"

    Does not include the role developed countries play in undermining the development of inclusive institutions in developing countries post- independence (neo-colonialism)

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Di
    8/4/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointing and painfully boring"

    I usually do not write negative reviews but having listened to the whole book, I am surprised of the positive reviews. Perhaps it would have been different if I was to read the printed version, where I would have been able to skim read through some of the chapters. Most of all, I found this book extremely boring to listen to, very repetitive, and what I distaste the most is that the logic was flawed, and wrong. The author was drawing conclusion and assumptions, using historical events and facts, but jumping from one country to the other, and one age to another, with no particular connection, order or timeline. The action-consequence link is missing, and although I cannot vouch for all of the historical references, but some of them were either biased, or not completely the true account of events for that age. It is true that the author is merely presenting a theory, and perhaps there is some evidence to support that extractive vs inclusive institutional arrangements bear great influence on the progress or decline of nations. But it felt like he was picking a number of historical references, not necessarily linked, but just because they were convenient to use as examples. Examples do not make for a theory, it is the logic that holds a theory together! I am willing to accept some of his valid assumptions. However, because of the flaws in his logic and evidence, the bias of his Americanized point of view, and because he did not take into account a number of factors, apart from political and economic, such as socio-cultural, which are of as much importance, I could not make myself to side with his theory.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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