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Niall FergusonAlthough it stands on a foundation of painstaking quantitative research, The Bottom Billion is an elegant edifice: admirably succinct and pithily written. Few economists today can match Collier when it comes to one-liners. “A flagrant grievance is to a rebel movement what an image is to a business.” Calling the present trade negotiations a “development round” is like calling “tomorrow’s trading on eBay a ‘development round.’ ” And “If Iraq is allowed to become another Somalia, with the cry ‘Never intervene,’ the consequences will be as bad as Rwanda.” … As Collier rightly says, it is time to dispense with the false dichotomies that bedevil the current debate on Africa: “ ‘Globalization will fix it’ versus ‘They need more protection,’ ‘They need more money’ versus ‘Aid feeds corruption,’ ‘They need democracy’ versus ‘They’re locked in ethnic hatreds,’ ‘Go back to empire’ versus ‘Respect their sovereignty,’ ‘Support their armed struggles’ versus ‘Prop up our allies.’ ” If you’ve ever found yourself on one side or the other of those arguments — and who hasn’t? — then you simply must read this book.
— The New York Times Sunday Book Review