25 May, 2015

Why nations fail : the origins of power, prosperity and poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson

What the heck is going on these days? Why is there so much turmoil, war and economic inequality in the world? Is there more behind the sectarian, religious and geographical strife that we see and if so, what can be done about it?

Early in the book the authors look at various theories for why nations fail, such as culture, geography or educational ignorance and why none of these seem to affect the success or otherwise of a country.We are shown the similarity between communism, Nazism, totalitarianism and various other isms which the authors argue are just buzzwords for authoritarian state control.

In a very readable and detailed fashion, we are led through the history and culture of different countries and continents and how they evolved into what we see today.

Those which appear to have succeeded are in the main the democratic countries, whose citizens have fought long and hard to get the standard of living that they now have.
Throughout the book the authors talk about extractive societies, that is, those who take from their citizens without giving back and inclusive regimes who take the welfare of all into account, not just the elite.

Yes, it is quite a thick book and looks daunting but the layout and the progression of ideas, is clear-sighted and easy to follow.

If you're looking for some kind of explanation of the world as it is, this will certainly add to your ideas of how and why nations fail.

I recommend it.
Authors: Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson

Reviewed by Clare K. Massey Library

Clare K works at Massey Library in West Auckland. She believes that there is nothing you can't learn from a book, and the more you know the more you grow.

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