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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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  • 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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  • 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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    Posted April 9, 2012

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