The 20th century saw the end of European dominance of the global scene. According to Jeffrey Sachs, the 21st century will bring changes even more sweeping. The author of The End of Poverty predicts more than the eclipse of the American Empire; he foresees a drastic rebalancing of economics and politics among regions of the world. The time, he says, is quickly approaching when the world will be too crowded and dangerous for "Great Games" strategies in the Middle East or elsewhere. Eventually, nations great and small will be forced to confront the defining challenge of the new century: the reality that humanity shares a common fate and that any clash of civilizations would be our last. A major book by a bestselling author.
Even congenital optimists have good reason to suspect that this time the prophets of economic doom may be on point, with the advent of seemingly unstoppable developments like climate change and the explosive growth of China and India. Which is why Sachs's booklucid, quietly urgent and relentlessly logicalresonates…Sachs smartly describes how we got here, and the path we must take to avert disaster. The director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and the author of The End of Poverty, Sachs is perhaps the best-known economist writing on developmental issues (or any other kind of issues) today. And this is Bigthink with a capital B.
The New York Times
In this sobering but optimistic manifesto, development economist Sachs (The End of Poverty) argues that the crises facing humanity are daunting-but solutions to them are readily at hand. Sachs focuses on four challenges for the coming decades: heading off global warming and environmental destruction; stabilizing the world's population; ending extreme poverty; and breaking the political logjams that hinder global cooperation on these issues. The author analyses economic data, demographic trends and climate science to create a lucid, accessible and suitably grim exposition of looming problems, but his forte is elaborating concrete, pragmatic, low-cost remedies complete with benchmarks and budgets. Sachs's entire agenda would cost less than 3% of the world's annual income, and he notes that a mere two days' worth of Pentagon spending would fund a comprehensive antimalaria program for Africa, saving countless lives. Forthright government action is the key to avoiding catastrophe, the author contends, not the unilateral, militarized approach to international problems that he claims is pursued by the Bush administration. Combining trenchant analysis with a resounding call to arms, Sachs's book is an important contribution to the debate over the world's future. (Mar.)Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
In his first book, The End of Poverty, development economist and UN special adviser Sachs laid out how extreme poverty in places like Africa could be alleviated. Here, he identifies and offers strategies for dealing with the leading global threats of the coming decades, such as environmental degradation, overpopulation, and resource depletion, arguing persuasively that much of the threat to humanity comes from those living in extreme poverty. He calls for wealthy nations to invest in efforts to improve the conditions of the extremely poor and thereby lessen the impact of extreme poverty on the planet. He explains in detail the goals that need to be met and how governments, not-for-profits, the private sector, and even individuals, can cooperate to achieve them. He reserves much of his criticism for the United States, which he says spends far too much on military technology that will prove ineffective in dealing with the true threats to our security. Though Sachs avoids jargon and writes clearly, the book would be heavy going for casual readers. Nevertheless, his work is an eloquent plea and a solid argument for global economic and political cooperation. Highly recommended for most libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ4/15/07.]
Lawrence R. Maxted
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Economist Sachs (Earth Institute/Columbia Univ.; The End of Poverty, 2005, etc.) limns social, environmental and economic forces that are reshaping the planet-for better or worse remains to be seen. Thanks to technological and agricultural innovations, Sachs writes, economic growth has reached into every corner of the globe, particularly in Asia, and "the world on average is rapidly getting richer in terms of income per person." At the same time, the population continues to grow, increasingly concentrated in vast cities. More people earning more means more consumption. In the face of this and against the likelihood of resource scarcity, can that growth be sustained? Sachs examines the prospects, suggesting that the greater challenge may be simply to lift the poor nations of the world, mostly in Africa, to some sort of health while improving life everywhere. In that regard, he observes, citizens of the United States have suffered the dismantling of social services, a "great right-wing attack [that] . . . has systematically reduced the scope of the social welfare system in health care, job protection, child support, housing support, and retirement security." Yet, he optimistically adds, the financial cost of making "major corrections" is small relative to the size of the U.S. economy, assuming proper prioritizing-the war in Iraq, for instance, is costing "roughly 1 percent of national income each year in direct outlays" that could otherwise subsidize universal healthcare coverage. In Africa, improvement in public investments-assuming corruption in the system can be removed, that is-can spur private investment and even prompt an economic boom. The future need not be grim, Sachs maintains,but getting to a better one will require concerted international effort, UN leadership and private initiative. A welcome contribution to the sustainable-development literature, accessible to nonspecialist readers but most useful to those with grounding in economics and international policy. Agent: Andrew Wylie/The Wylie Agency
"Lucid, quietly urgent, and relentlessly logical... this is Bigthink with a capital B."
-The New York Times Book Review
"Jeffrey Sachs never disappoints. . . . This book is an excellent resource for all those who want to understand what changes the twenty-first century may bring."
-Kofi Annan, winner of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize and former secretary-general of the United Nations
"Common Wealth explains the most basic economic reckoning that the world faces."
-Al Gore, winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize and former vice president of the United States