• The Bottom Billion

  • Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It
  • By: Paul Collier
  • Narrated by: Gideon Emery
  • Length: 7 hrs and 43 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (322 ratings)

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The Bottom Billion  By  cover art

The Bottom Billion

By: Paul Collier
Narrated by: Gideon Emery
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Publisher's summary

In the universally acclaimed and award-winning The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier reveals that 50 failed states - home to the poorest one billion people on earth - pose the central challenge of the developing world in the 21st century. The book shines much-needed light on this group of small nations, largely unnoticed by the industrialized West, that are dropping further and further behind the majority of the world's people, often falling into an absolute decline in living standards.

A struggle rages within each of these nations between reformers and corrupt leaders - and the corrupt are winning. Collier analyzes the causes of failure, pointing to a set of traps that ensnare these countries, including civil war, a dependence on the extraction and export of natural resources, and bad governance. Standard solutions do not work, he writes; aid is often ineffective, and globalization can actually make matters worse, driving development to more stable nations.

What the bottom billion need, Collier argues, is a bold new plan supported by the Group of Eight industrialized nations. If failed states are ever to be helped, the G8 will have to adopt preferential trade policies, new laws against corruption, new international charters, and even conduct carefully calibrated military interventions. Collier has spent a lifetime working to end global poverty. In The Bottom Billion, he offers real hope for solving one of the great humanitarian crises facing the world today.

©2008 Paul Collier (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Set to become a classic. Crammed with statistical nuggets and common sense, his book should be compulsory reading." ( The Economist)
"If Sachs seems too saintly and Easterly too cynical, then Collier is the authentic old Africa hand: he knows the terrain and has a keen ear.... If you've ever found yourself on one side or the other of those arguments -and who hasn't? - then you simply must read this book." (Niall Ferguson, The New York Times Book Review)

What listeners say about The Bottom Billion

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

no easy fix

Collier lays out a comprehensive survey of what has caused this situation and the challenges of bringing solutions to it. Many of his research based observations are initially counter intuitive, until you get to hear about the bizarre incentives to good as well as bad behavior. Solid narration.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Eye opening inspirational and informative

I wanted to discover the issues facing the poorest, what has worked and what hasn't and I got it.

I only wish there was a prologue that included the events that took place in the 10 years after the book was written. I feel that I have a gap in my knowledge.

Highly recommended to anyone interested in humanitarian aid, policy and what can be done about the poorest of the poor.

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3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great use of data

Great use of data. It would have been nice to have shown some of the raw data.

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3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A must read for global citizens

A fascinating book, though not always easy to follow, that explains the financial side of national poverty. Important for every person who has ever considered donating to poor countries

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful!

Great audio book. Well written. The reader is very good. I am an economics graduate student. I feel it helps me a lot in understanding how econometrical approach can be used to analyze various real world issues in economic development.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Blueprint to close the gap

I read The Bottom Billion over a year ago but saw it cheap on Audible since I own the kindle version and decided to give it another listen. Talks about the gap between the developed economies versus those with citizens from the bottom billion of the poorest people on the planet and why the gap is expanding instead of narrowing. The traps include resource trap, land locked trap, conflict trap (military coup prone), unstable neighbors trap, etc. They also are impacted by adverse migration patterns that often lead to a brain drain of the talent that could help pull the country out of the economic morass leaving for green pastures in developed countries. The traps form a perfect storm for much of Africa and explains much of the economic struggles there. Collier discusses options to help close the gap starting with the common response that has limited impact of direct aid through more impactful tactics that could truly help.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Is poverty a disease or a wound?

I really enjoyed this, primarily UN centric, treatment of the hidden realities of that group of people who rarely make the news. If you're an international traveler, these are the people that you see walking in the broiling sun, or begging on the side of the road.

Yet, the book is hopeful in offering new solutions, some that may interest business people such as low end insurance products.

Overall this book was compelling, and interesting from start to finish.

Gare Henderson

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    5 out of 5 stars
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just great

Eye opening book for anyone who wants to start understanding a bit more the development space and what can be done about it.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

See How Asia Works

The book in my opinion is the opposite side of "How Asia works" the two books put together and their suggestions combined would fast track development

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Worth reading

Easy to listen too.
Good book
Recommended to everyone seeking analysis on why our world is the way it is today.

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