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Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

This is up there with Guns, Germs, and Steel as a macro theory o

This is up there with Guns, Germs, and Steel as a macro theory on why the world (and history) is as it is. The author actually rebuff's Dimond's thesis in Gun, Germs.. that geography is destiny (albeit gently). Instead, institutions matter. Countries with extractive pol...
This is up there with Guns, Germs, and Steel as a macro theory on why the world (and history) is as it is. The author actually rebuff's Dimond's thesis in Gun, Germs.. that geography is destiny (albeit gently). Instead, institutions matter. Countries with extractive political and economic systems (which most of the world have) will underperform against those with open, pluralistic systems (which only a few have). It's a great read with the authors backing up their thesis with enough examples to give it credit (and you'll have no trouble coming up with your own), but not so many as to make the book unwieldily.

posted by Rob0NY on May 29, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Very much on target, missing only details

Obviously a pair of former leftists, these guys have got the free market message, even if clinging to their former prejudices in small ways (don't we all). Through numerous examples they focus on the vital phenomena which they've convinced me are crucial to understandin...
Obviously a pair of former leftists, these guys have got the free market message, even if clinging to their former prejudices in small ways (don't we all). Through numerous examples they focus on the vital phenomena which they've convinced me are crucial to understanding the reality here.

Other reviewers will describe their identification of institutions as key, though the authors demand that it be seen that the institutions must be understood in their respective historical terms, whether those of rich countries or poor. Their analysis of Latin America's encomienda system is fine.

But though I'm not yet finished with the book, so far they have not provided enough detail regarding how the actual institutions presently fail their citizens in particular countries. There are instead too many generalities involving "extractive economies" and "extractive political systems", to the point of almost exact repetition.

I eagerly await "Why Nations Fail, Vol. II -- The Details".

posted by eager-readerLC on May 4, 2012

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  • Posted May 29, 2012

    This is up there with Guns, Germs, and Steel as a macro theory o

    This is up there with Guns, Germs, and Steel as a macro theory on why the world (and history) is as it is. The author actually rebuff's Dimond's thesis in Gun, Germs.. that geography is destiny (albeit gently). Instead, institutions matter. Countries with extractive political and economic systems (which most of the world have) will underperform against those with open, pluralistic systems (which only a few have). It's a great read with the authors backing up their thesis with enough examples to give it credit (and you'll have no trouble coming up with your own), but not so many as to make the book unwieldily.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 4, 2012

    Very much on target, missing only details

    Obviously a pair of former leftists, these guys have got the free market message, even if clinging to their former prejudices in small ways (don't we all). Through numerous examples they focus on the vital phenomena which they've convinced me are crucial to understanding the reality here.

    Other reviewers will describe their identification of institutions as key, though the authors demand that it be seen that the institutions must be understood in their respective historical terms, whether those of rich countries or poor. Their analysis of Latin America's encomienda system is fine.

    But though I'm not yet finished with the book, so far they have not provided enough detail regarding how the actual institutions presently fail their citizens in particular countries. There are instead too many generalities involving "extractive economies" and "extractive political systems", to the point of almost exact repetition.

    I eagerly await "Why Nations Fail, Vol. II -- The Details".

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 4, 2012

    Thought-provoking, but flawed

    If you're interested in international relations and economics, this is a must-read, as it's definitely thought-provoking. However:

    1. It's repetitive; it repeats its theme of "extractive institutions do not lead to long-term growth" over and over, and it even summarizes what the book just stated a few pages before, over and over.

    2. It doesn't show any data to back up its arguments. Extractive systems don't produce growth over the long run? Show me tables, graphs, etc., please. Not just the conclusion that extractive systems don't produce growth over the long run.

    3. It gets its history wrong in an effort to back up its key arguments. For example, it claims that Austria-Hungary was an "absolutist" monarchy until World War I. It wasn't the most free country in the world, but by the 1900s, it was an emerging democracy, with elected legislatures, limits on the monarch's power, etc.

    Also, it states that the Civil Rights movement in the US succeeded in part because Southern "planters" were less resistant to it due to economic changes. Right...those planters (They were long gone by the 1950s).

    4. Finally, it just summarily dismisses alternative theories about economic growth. Yes, Country X was wealthier than North America in 1500- and this book shows that as a reason why geography, climate and other reasons don't really matter in economic growth. In the rudimentary economy of 1500, perhaps Country X's geography and climate weren't a problem. But just maybe in 2012, its climate and geography and other factors don't work to produce success in today's economy.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2012

    Very repetative

    I found this book very boring, repetative and difficult to read. They fold all societies into Inclusive and Extrative. Every time they see a society decline they attribute it to being extractive. The decline of the Roman Empire was attributed to being extractive and quote gibbon. Like Gibbon they use the things they don't like in their society to make this point. Latin America's poverty is attributed to Extractve insttutions(ie large estates) yet it was the US which frequently prevented remediating this. They predict that China's growth will soon end because of it's political system. (Having been to both the old Soviet Union and China there is enormous difference between them.) China is building high speed rail we can't get anything done in the US. Their ideas could have been expressed in a much shorter book.

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2012

    Interesting Theory

    This book lays out an interesting theory that suggests the requirement for a new approach towards global politics and economics. On the face of it, the theory certainly makes sense and the authors provide plenty of examples that support their theory. The narrative was easy to follow, but the book was a slow read. Likely because the same point was made repeatedly, only with different examples.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    Very interesting and insightful theory of development. Plausibly explains why Iraq and Afghanistan are turning out as they are and why the persistent poverty in certain parts of the world. Great read

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2012

    A book that needs to be read slowly because it is filled with de

    A book that needs to be read slowly because it is filled with detailed studies -- and that's a good thing. The authors do a great job of illustrating their thesis. It's the most substantive book of its kind that I've seen. This book is a big step forward. You should read it.

    However, the authors do omit some relevant considerations. For example, when discussing the Republic of Venice they don't mention externals such as the Ottomans gaining control of the Mediterranean or de Gama's discovery of a shorter route to the Orient.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2012

    Wow, Amazing and thorough book.

    This was an interesting book with some parts that were dry and textbook like. After reading the history of the nations of the world I can't help but think that the US is in trouble. The odds are against this nation making it. There is too many destructive societies around us to keep us on the right path. The youth of the world need to read this book so they can steer their nations to stay on a prosperous path.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 6, 2014

    In Why Nations Fail, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson presen

    In Why Nations Fail, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson present a strong argument for the significant role of economic and political institutions in determining the success or failure of a nation. According to the authors, inclusive institutions provide citizens with the incentives (law and order, [intellectual] property rights, and so forth) that encourage people to become economically productive members of society. On the other hand, extractive (exploitative) political economic and political institutions leave citizens with little motivation to contribute to the commonwealth of a nation as the fruits of their labor are funneled into the pockets of an elite minority. Acemoglu and Robinson provide a lot of details, but the details often cross into redundancy territory; to be fair to the writers, it's not easy to avoid some repetitiveness with a book of this scope. However, my biggest concern with the work is how they cover successful nations. Early on, the institutional arguments for failing/failed nations are presented in a political vacuum, as if more powerful nations don't exert influence on developing states. This concern is later addressed in a chapter on the influence of the slave trade on the political/economic development in certain African nations. Unfortunately, there is little more than a brief acknowledgement of the fact that successful nations with inclusive political/economic institutions support and benefit from extractive institutions overseas. So I couldn't help but wonder if extractive institutions are indeed a necessity for a nations success as long as they manage to capitalize on the extractive, exploitative institutions beyond their borders? I know the titular question is "why nations fail," but I feel that the book would have been more complete if they provided a more nuanced picture of "why nations succeed." 

    Ultimately, Why Nations Fail is a solid book with a great deal of research, but treating institutions as the answer to a nations' woes cannot fully account for the complexities that every nation must deal with. In short, the book shouldn't stand alone, but should be placed in conversation with Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel and Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2013

    Insightful

    The best explanation I have seen as to why the vast sums of monies provided to the impoverished nations of the world do so little good. It is time for the U.S.A. and other donor nations to rethink the entire process of selecting the recipients of, managing, and delivering foreign aid. The observations and ideas presented in this book should enter into that process.

    The authors make their case in a thorough and methodical way, but I found the book to be a slow read. I also found it to be more than worth the effort and recommend it to those who have an interest in why nations fail.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2013

    Lilly

    Stop tHis disgusting if you dont im repirting you to b and n and theyll track down youre account. STOP IT NOW! IM LEAVING!!!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2013

    erica

    *Bends down and sucks his pe.n.is* while she rubs her boo.obs

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Here! In the morning! Gtg see iron man 3 buh bye lol

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Okay. Sticks his cok in her vagin a before she leaves

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2013

    P A persuasive thesis

    The authors thesis, that political and economic control by elites, is well researched and persuasive. The grassroots success story of Brazil is encouraginng. I do wonder why the Chinese molde of African development is not discussed?
    Overall an excellent look at the underpinnings of prosperity.

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  • Posted January 23, 2013

    Excellent explanations of why some nations succeed and others fa

    Excellent explanations of why some nations succeed and others fail. The authors' basic framework is pretty simple, and they offer many historical examples as anecdotal evidence to support it. There are also many nuances to the framework, too, which many other reviewers seem to have missed.

    The authors' framework is more like an "operating system" a person can use to analyze past and current systems of government and economics, rather than a plain explanation. (It's not the only operating system a person could use, of course.) I find it fascinating to match up current events in the US with the writers' framework.

    The book also is non-partisan; conservatives will find things to like in it, such as the insistence on property rights for a nation to succeed. Liberals will like the insistence of including all members of society in the political and economic spheres of the nation.

    The book is written by economists, but given that, I still found the historical examples and analyses engaging. Takes some work on the reader's part, though, and can be repetitive at times. Still, I have a feeling people will be reading this one far into the future.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    Intersting book I would not recommend to the general public.

    This long book is filled with interesting historical examples, which the authors try to fit into their theory. It discounts the theories of other economists and repeatedly states its own theory. For example, the first chapter is about American colonization by Spain and Great Britain. There are immediate attempts to make these events fit the theory without a look at other possible causes such as the markets these countries provided fot their colonies. This is repeated with other historical examples.

    I would recommend this book to anyone interested in economics and history. I believe most of the history is well researched, even if it may be twisted to fit the book's theme.

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  • Posted November 15, 2012

    This book is excellent in explaining the relationship between a

    This book is excellent in explaining the relationship between a nations wealth, its institutions and its political makeup. .

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2012

    where is my book?

    i ordered how nations fail on the 10th oct, you were paid on that day, buy i have no book

    order no is 00417090112933348810 whats going on.?

    regards robert.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2012

    I'LL BE GLAD TO DO SO WHEN A GET THE BOOK HERE IN BRAZIL

    ORDERED OVER A MONTH AGO. ORDER # 446247871.

    CELSO QUEIROZ

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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