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The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions

4.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,004 ratings  ·  158 reviews
**As seen on Sky News All Out Politics**

‘There’s no understanding global inequality without understanding its history. In The Divide, Jason Hickel brilliantly lays it out, layer upon layer, until you are left reeling with the outrage of it all.’ - Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics

For decades we have been told a story about the divide between rich countries and poo
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published May 4th 2017 by William Heinemann (first published 2017)
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David M
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Eat a dick, Pinker.


Ha, seriously though, this is a deeply important little book. Seems to me a definitive refutation of the dominant paradigm purveyed by everyone from Bono to Bill Gates to, yes, Steven Pinker. Why the combination of charity and 'free market' capitalism will never be sufficient to alleviate the plight of global poverty. Poverty is not some inexplicable fact of nature, but rather the result of a particular social system, and ultimately there is no humanitarian solution that is
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you’ve read Hans rosling or Pinker or Gates or listened to ted talks by them (I’m including you Obama), you have to read this book. You have to.

Poverty is CREATED!
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
We are all concerned about the Global Poor; we all want to help. Many NGOs have been helping the hungry and homeless in poor countries.

Hickel however explained that it is the rich world that first created the Third World. Europeans subjugated and killed almost all the native Americans, and take African slaves to work in the American plantations. The British ruled India and destroyed its then vibrant textile business and forced Indians to buy British textiles; defeated China and forced it to buy
Tadas Talaikis
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics

1. Lowering poverty by increasing GDP growth is a joke, played on poor people by world leaders, because increasing income to $5/day for poorest population purely from GDP will damage climate irreparably with much worse subsequent consequences.

2. Global bank's PPP revisions are discriminatory and doesn't reflect reality. World leaders would with such revisions would reach their "goals" by doing exactly nothing.

3. Several hundred years ago so called "third world" lived better and healthier
Bartosz Pranczke
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Since my teenage years, I was a strong believer in laissez-faire economics. I thought that all that the world needs to be fair economically is to just have equality of opportunity. And what is better than neoliberalism to provide that, right?

This book (along with "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" and "Guns, Germs, and Steel") has finally changed my stubborn mind.

I still believe that capitalism is the best economic system humans have invented so far but I stopped believing that the free mar
Wendy Liu
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: capitalism-etc
Basically a red pill for global inequality. Read this to understand why the North-South divide persists in spite of all the generous "aid" being thrown at the problem.
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me MONTHS to read this book because it made me so angry I'd read a little bit an then have to put it down.
If you think "Africa/Latin America/poor countries in general just can't get their shit together" read this and learn why. It's eye-opening and infuriating.
Luckily his solutions at the end - while difficult - are feasible and encouraging. We CAN have an equitable world and slow some of this climate destruction and poverty, we just have to start giving a shit.
Swapnil Deshpande
This is, hands down, one of THE most outstanding books I have read this year. I found this book un-put-down-able.

Who should read this book?

You should read this book if:

A. You are interested in equality and fairness, you want the world to be a better place, you think about climate change and want to know some of the unknown problems caused by it (and additionally, want to do something about it), you want poorer countries to develop.


B. If you have read Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong A
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Did not finish - I got about halfway before giving up.
While I gave this book a 2, I thought some parts deserved a 3, and many others deserved a 1.

The author has some good information and history about parts of colonialism and conquest that happened for 500 years. There is no disputing the facts of what happened, and he correctly captures much of the negative that happened. With that being said, he draws conclusions that do not seem to be supported by the facts, exaggerates others, and makes ju
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding and eye-opening. A book everyone on this earth must read; for those in the "developing world" to understand how their kind was repeatedly robbed first through brutal violence then through devious means of unfair trade and manipulation, for those in the "developed world" to see the blood on their hands.

Long ago I discovered the fact that world food production exceeds consumption, yet half the planet lives in hunger and poverty. The poor countries were making the food, yet they were t
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a powerful intervention. Must-reading for anyone who wants to understand what caused mass poverty and global inequality, and why it persists today. Hickel challenges many of the dominant assumptions out there, and does so in a clear and readable way - his writing is accessible and engaging to a lay audience. This book will challenge you and inform you, and will undoubtedly change the debate about global inequality and its solutions.
Marwan Shalaby
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book in my opinion serves two purposes: The first being turning major narratives and conventional wisdom on their head, and the second being serving as a straight forward, accessible alternative history of how the global status-quo came to be. Hickel cleverly and effortlessly dissects and refutes the following economic tropes that are commonly heard within Liberal circles. They include but are not limited to:

1- The world is getting better (propagated by the likes of Steven Pinker and Jordan
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Sapiens book for capitalism. The economic history of the last 500 years. Why poor countries are poor and why rich countries are rich. What does the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO do. What's up with all those NGOs in Africa.

These are some of questions this book answers. Other reviews said it feels like taking the red pill and leaving the Matrix; it is exactly that. And the answers will make you outrageous.

Maybe you won't learn anything new; global equality is a major issue and we all know i
Isa Lappalainen
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How can I convince everyone I know to read this book? It's clear, convincing and very well-written. Hickel's narration is strikingly similar to that of Yuval Noah Harari in Sapiens, and I think anyone with the slightest interest in contemporary society's past, present, and future will thoroughly enjoy it.

It is a history of how the economic interests of the most powerful came to dominate the configuration of human societies, globally. It touches upon an impressive variety of interlinked themes,
Stella Borthwick
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
reaaaaally interesting read, pretty horrifying for the most part but kind of ended on a hopeful note. big recommend to anyone interested in learning more about how and why the world is the way it is rn and what we should be doing to make things better in terms of global inequality AND climate change
Umar Al Faruq
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A highly relevant book in an era of ecological crises and inequality. Serving as a history of the origins of global poverty and anthropogenic climate change and as an accessible introduction to leftist ideas (as I see it), Jason Hickel managed to write a critical piece that anyone concerned about social inequity and environmental justice will be sorry to miss.
An essential read for everyone. It will outrage you and hopefully it will also inspire you to take action by holding corporations and governments accountable, by taking tangible actions to reduce your own footprint, and for considering issues with a longer historical context.
Thom Behrens
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal book. Total gut punch. For anyone concerned with either global inequality of climate change, this should be on the “must read” list.
Wendy Waters
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading for anyone with a conscience and a desire to find a permanent solution to poverty. I have written a more detailed review on my Blog

Yevgeniy Brikman
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book argues that the popular narrative that, thanks to the spread of capitalism, the rates of global poverty and hunger in poor countries are going down, is wrong. The reality, according to Hickel, is that poverty and hunger are increasing, as is the divide between rich and poor countries, and that this is due to deep injustice and inequality built into the global economic system. This system is structured to allow rich countries to extract all the value from poor countries, so it's really ...more
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such an important book which now, when the world is facing pandemic and crisis, speaks even louder.

I picked up this book because I knew I will probably not agree with it and wanted to get different perspective on the things I perceive as set-in-stone (like the fact that world economies needs to grow year-to year, period).

World is not fair, we all know that. But is it not fair by its nature or is it just the narration we get from the mass media and the leaders of developed countries, protecting
Andrew Rodriguez
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Spectacular analysis of the crippling deficits which burden humanity in our modern age, a consequence of rapacious capitalists whose avarice is boundless. Don't believe anything the IMF and WTO tout, they're the beneficiaries of their own global agenda for the affluent and against the destitute. Only flaw is that the closing section about de-developing doesn't proffer many solutions for the ordinary citizen, but the book is so pregnant with information that this oversight is forgivable.
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book does a fantastic job of dispelling the harmful rumor that "everything is getting better" and "we'll be just fine" regarding inequality and global warming. It walks us through the history of various ways that western countries have extracted value (in various forms) from other countries and how that has had harmful effects and is still preventing those countries from developing and preventing people in those countries from living their best lives.
Tomas Bella
Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it
While I tend to agree with most of the author's recommendations at the end of the book like debt forgiving and need to fight against wage inequality, the whole book is just annoying; simplifying all the world's problems into "Capitalism, imperialism, free trade - bad!" mantra, while ignoring the obvious problems with all their alternatives.
Samuel Weitekamp
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was very good as it gave the lie to our Western notions of aid to the global south. It also helped me understand where some gaps in my own understanding were regarding the global history of colonization.
Q Crain
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: econ
Incredible!! Required corrective to the intellectual pablum of say Steven Pinker on these topics.
Mr. Hickel brings us back to reality in an incrediby concise, factual, entertaining and simple way. Thank you Mr. Hickel.

The definitive smackdown of Steven Pinker's (see The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined and Hans Rosling's (see Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think) ideologies. If you've read this and you still believe Pinker and Rosling well, I get it: Smile or Die (read the book titled this by Barbara Ehrenreich
Neal Leslie
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every now and then I read something that really changes the way I view the world. I've never really thought about why some countries are poor. We've all seen the TV ads asking for foreign aid and I'm sure never thought much about it.

In "The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions,' Jason Hickel examines the roots of global inequality. Contrary to popular belief, poor countries or, as he terms them the Global South, are not poor because of geography, inept or corrupt governa
Lisa Butterworth
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is devastating. I've been on board with calling colonialism and capitalism unfair exploitative and immoral for a long long time, but to have it laid out, so clearly, line up on line, fact upon fact. To have all the statistics that justify the status quo (we are trying to support their development!) pulled apart and put back together showing just how far we go to hide the fact that we (the wealthy countries/people/companies) exploit, steal, and pillage and then we turn around and tell t ...more
Sophie Eis
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In short, an absolute must read, giving a concise overview of global history that has put today’s economic and social systems in place, how these systems and the ideals of capitalism affect people in completely unequal and inequitable ways, how the idea of aid and development is warped, and how we must change in order to prevent complete destruction of our existence.
... really a feel good read 🙃 but 100000% necessary
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