Why Nations Fail

The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty

Acemoglu, Daron

Book - 2012
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Why Nations Fail
Why are some nations rich and others poor? Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of the right policies? Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Based on fifteen years of original research, Acemoglu and Robinson marshall historical evidence from the Roman Empire to the Soviet Union, from Korea to 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? Is America 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? This book will change the way you look at--and understand--the world.--From publisher description.

Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, c2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 0307719219
Branch Call Number: 330 A173w 2012
Characteristics: xi, 529 p., [16] leaves of plates :,ill., maps ;,25 cm
Additional Contributors: Robinson, James A. 1960-


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May 14, 2013
  • delfon rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This is a fascinating read for a number of reasons: the use of historical evidence to prove the authors hypothesis; the drawing of inferences from a variety of countries, cultures, peoples and the clear way it seems to fall together. In the main though, this work can relate to modern times quite easily. Canada can be seen as an extractive economy, whether we change is still questionable. But stagnation and proverty abound, Why are there so few top people? Anecdotal examples:. Contracts not upheld, criminals not tried, opportunity denied, rights abrogated, select individuals chosen to act for the leadership (senators for the PM), candidates attempt bribes of voters with 'goodies" (see labrador election). Even though Canada is viewed as one of the inclusive ecoomies, there are enough real life anamolies to make one wonder. Canada is a failed nation by this books' assessment, even if not by its admission.

Jan 04, 2013
  • steverenko rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This book is magnificant in its approach to the real history, what really happened out there as compared to what I was taught in school. I have rewritten my opinions what history was then.

Aug 07, 2012
  • Rock_Shadow rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I am not an economist, so this book was fascinating to me. I agree with the fist reviewer that it got a little repetitive in the last part (I started skipping a little bit); but overall it was a enjoyable and informative book, successful in it's ambitious presentation.
The main topic is addressed right away, about how a country's future is determined by either extractive or inclusive systems of government. In the first one the rulers control people's lives and do not allow them to either contribute to the well-being of the society or innovate with their talents. They even punish people for their physical and intellectual properties. In the inclusive society people's property and intellectual rights are safe; people are valued for their talents and contribution to the society.
A big issue is innovation, also called creative destruction, that leads to progress and well-being of the whole nation.
I liked the way the authors developed the theme through historical examples from all continents, from ancient history to 2011. Also, very informative section went over why other theories haven't worked. At the end the authors provided some ideas how to help poor countries with extractive governments to start on more inclusive path.

Jun 22, 2012
  • rstolzster rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

The central idea of this book is built around the role of institutions (extractive or inclusive) and politics and their influence on how economies grow or fail.

The book is most compelling when it rips apart contemporary theories of development. It's failure is how it addresses the question: so what? It's a book filled with interesting historical insight, without much in the way of a 'therefore'. It feels incomplete.

I also found the book rather repetitive. 500 pages could have been condensed into a much more readable 200 pages.

Still, the sweeping analysis and sharp insights are worth a read. And after putting the book down, I do find myself thinking about the points raised in it.


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