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Publisher's Summary

From the authors of the international best seller, Why Nations Fail, a crucial new big-picture framework that answers the question of how liberty flourishes in some states but falls to authoritarianism or anarchy in others - and explains how it can continue to thrive despite new threats.

Liberty is hardly the "natural" order of things. In most places and at most times, the strong have dominated the weak and human freedom has been quashed by force or by customs and norms. Either states have been too weak to protect individuals from these threats or states have been too strong for people to protect themselves from despotism. Liberty emerges only when a delicate and precarious balance is struck between state and society.

There is a Western myth that political liberty is a durable construct, a steady state, arrived at by a process of "enlightenment". This static view is a fantasy, the authors argue; rather, the corridor to liberty is narrow and stays open only via a fundamental and incessant struggle between state and society. The power of state institutions and the elites that control them has never gone uncontested in a free society. In fact, the capacity to contest them is the definition of liberty. State institutions have to evolve continuously as the nature of conflicts and needs of society change, and thus society's ability to keep state and rulers accountable must intensify in tandem with the capabilities of the state. This struggle between state and society becomes self-reinforcing, inducing both to develop a richer array of capacities just to keep moving forward along the corridor. Yet this struggle also underscores the fragile nature of liberty. It is built on a fragile balance between state and society, between economic, political, and social elites and citizens, between institutions and norms. One side of the balance gets too strong, and, as has often happened in history, liberty begins to wane. Liberty depends on the vigilant mobilization of society. But it also needs state institutions to continuously reinvent themselves in order to meet new economic and social challenges that can close off the corridor to liberty.

Today we are in the midst of a time of wrenching destabilization. We need liberty more than ever, and yet the corridor to liberty is becoming narrower and more treacherous. The danger on the horizon is not "just" the loss of our political freedom, however grim that is in itself; it is also the disintegration of the prosperity and safety that critically depend on liberty. The opposite of the corridor of liberty is the road to ruin.

Includes a bonus PDF of the maps and figures from the book.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Daron Acemoglu, James A. Robinson (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"A work of staggering ambition - aiming to explain why liberty has or has not existed at every moment in time in every geography in the world.... It is chock full of delightful detours and brilliant nuggets.... Smart and timely." (Newsweek)

"A well-written and argued treatise...indispensable reading." (Library Journal starred review)

"Provocative and intuitively correct. An endlessly rewarding book." (Kirkus starred review)

What listeners say about The Narrow Corridor

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Long and Derivative

I read “Why Nations Fail” and loved it. Thought it was unique and innovative. This felt very derivative to that work and the case studies didn’t add much. “Why Nations Fail” really described what the Narrow Corridor is - a good balance between state and the people - and how it helped nations succeed or fail if you were out of that corridor. This seemed to cover more examples to support the work they already had written about.

2 people found this helpful

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Powerful

The Narrow Corridor provides a simple, but powerful model for thinking about the world. Makes me want to re-read Fujiyama's two books about the origins of power and political order. in a world of increasing closemindedness, and political nostalgia, we need books like these that can open your mind.

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Difficult book to get through.

It was a difficult book to get through but one of the most informative and educational book on the history of governments. I always believed that it was propaganda labeling a particular country communism socialism or capitalism. This book points out why they should not be labeled as such, it explains a whole different way to look at an understand government.

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Great book

As good as their first book "Why Nations Fail". This book uses analysis based on research from all different societies to draw some interesting conclusion about the nature of social norms and state power.

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Genius

Genius work and authors. Very enlightening and entertaining. The hard work, brilliance and recommendations of the authors are much appreciated and needed. It may be one of all time best written books

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Good idea but did not enjoy this book

I gained so much insight and perspective from an earlier book on the role of institutions that I plunged in and expected to be delighted. Instead the ‘shackled Leviathan’ the ‘Red Queen’ etc. killed the buzz instantly. Unfortunately it also blunted the power of a lot of ideas. When things would start to get really interesting, they fell back on the use of these terrible terms (and weird concepts) instead of supplying what could have been interesting analysis. Would not recommend.

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Alas

What a wonderful book. I wish it could be taught in every school in the World especially third world countries

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Brilliant

An amazing follow-up to their seminal work “Why Nations Fail”. Important additions to their paradigm providing an essential contribution to understanding our past and current political situation

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Original thinking on national success and failure

This is the best and most original book I have read in a long time. Its concept of a "narrow corridor" seems likely to lead to an excellent a priori predictor of the success and failure of nations. The arguments are based on historical analyses but seem to build on the game theory concepts of Bueno de Mesquita's "Dictator's Handbook."

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Great with minor issues in narration

Very clear narration with a few words misread. Coherent book. Plenty of examples as with the authors’ previous book, why nations fail.