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

Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine?


Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?

Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities. The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions—with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.

Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today, including:

- China has built an authoritarian growth machine. Will it continue to grow at such high speed and overwhelm the West?
- Are America's best days behind it? Are we moving from a virtuous circle in which efforts by elites to aggrandize power are resisted to a vicious one that enriches and empowers a small minority?
- What is the most effective way to help move billions of people from the rut of poverty to prosperity? More
philanthropy from the wealthy nations of the West? Or learning the hard-won lessons of Acemoglu and Robinson's breakthrough ideas on the interplay between inclusive political and economic institutions?

Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at—and understand—the world.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Never found time to read it.

    March 12, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Last minute must go commitment. Sorry to miss this conversation.

    March 11, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Thought I changed this yesterday. --I can't make it, unfortunately. I'm not up on the book. Next time, I hope. Cheers!

    March 11, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    My regrets, but I won't be able to make this one. Enjoy.

    March 10, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Wish I could go but have too much going on this week.

    March 10, 2013

  • Pamela L.

    This looks great for a future book club :)
    The Favored Daughter: One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future
    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11816100-the-favored-daughter

    Just watched her on The Daily Show and her story brought tears to my eyes.
    http://www.thedailyshow.com/extended-interviews/423839/playlist_tds_extended_fawzia_koofi/423822

    February 16, 2013

    • Pamela L.

      Thank you for being here - this group has made me realize that while I felt like I couldn't make much of a difference, I have already made a huge difference by being informed and dedicated my life to adopting eco-friendly practices, and doing everything I can to live my life with intention and dignity by walking the walk and talking the talk. I have ALWAYS believed that we vote just by what we choose to buy (that is the law of supply & demand, after all) and go out of my way to support companies that align with my views, which incl fair wages, fair trade and organic. I also go out of my way to NOT support companies that support homophobic views and do not treat their employees right, and people often wonder why. You would think you wouldn't have to explain that one? LOL.

      2 · February 16, 2013

  • Joyce L.

    Meghan, I am a novice at using MeetUp (this is the first time). Lot's of info on the page. Is there any way I can email you directly (I won't have time to read the book, so I wanted to come and listen, but it seems that no one has signed up).

    February 7, 2013

  • Pamela L.

    I will probably come, depending on the book. I'm going to the next one on Tuesday featuring Republic, Lost.

    January 6, 2013

12 went

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Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

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