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


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Bill Gates didn't like the book

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Petras Just a couple of links that might be interesting to those who have read the book:

Bill Gates recently has read the book and did not like it. Here is his review: http://www.thegatesnotes.com/en/Books...

Acemoglu has written a rather harsh reply in Foreign Policy to this review: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles...


Felix Wow! Thanks Petras for the links... I wonder what Bill Clinton might think about this book as well...


message 3: by Marks54 (last edited Jun 26, 2013 05:45PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marks54 Gates' review is poorly crafted and Acemoglu is a pro. A response in FP is a highly visible opportunity to market the book to the best audiences. .. and to have BG (who should taken a history course while at Harvard) as a target? Gates should be getting some of the royalties!


Richard Toscan I think one of the big questions is whether the work the Gates foundation is doing in these countries with what Acemoglu has called extractive political systems is sustainable. Implicit in Acemoglu's thesis is that the answer is No. But as long as Gates is willing to pump billions into these projects and overlook the "tax" applied to those grants through NGO administrative costs and governing elites' graft that allows these projects to go forward, the results can be sustained. Once Gates leaves for other projects, odds are the medial issues will slowly revert to the old norm. I suspect Gates isn't willing to admit how much those extractive political systems contribute to the medical issues he hopes to alleviate.


Lorin I either find review of a book that matches my thoughts, or write one myself. The following is one I found, forget where that expresses my opinion. Note that US is currently beginning to fall into an 'exclusive' nation.

A look as how very small differences during small or great historical times did grow into differences in Inclusive (prosperous nations) and exclusive (poor nations). How small elite governments (exclusive) fail at some point becuase of infighting and not allowing inteligent distruction of old practicies that would disrupt their power. How strong government, property rights and allowing new processes to replace old practices allowed these countries to succeed.


message 6: by Mike (last edited Jan 26, 2015 03:28PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike Robbins Petras wrote: "Just a couple of links that might be interesting to those who have read the book:

Bill Gates recently has read the book and did not like it. Here is his review: http://www.thegatesnotes.com/en/Boo..."


FYI Acemoglu's rebuttal (you're right, it's harsh. But it's justified) is still online but has moved to this address: http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/03/12/w...


message 7: by Mike (last edited Jan 26, 2015 03:27PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike Robbins I read Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty with interest and felt that they were too determined to defend a single theory; I also wondered if they had cherry-picked their examples in order to do so.

Even so, I felt the authors were much nearer the truth than Gates. Their basic thesis - that in the end it's inclusive systems that do well - is right; in the long run, non-inclusive systems concentrate power in the hands of a minority whose rule ultimately becomes sclerotic.

This is especially well put in Joseph Tainter's remarkable The Collapse of Complex Societies. More recently, Robert Reich is very good on the way modern power and wealth is being concentrated, and the harm that this is doing us all - he puts it very entertainingly in Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future. And a book that I've loved for 40 years, Brian Inglis's Poverty And The Industrial Revolution, shows very well how social legislation and political reform went hand-in-hand with the growth of the first consumer economy.

I admire Bill Gates and his achievements, and Why Nations Fail isn't a perfect book. Even so, on this one Gates is wrong and the authors are right - or a lot closer to it.


Sagheer Afzal I have just purchased this book. I look forward to discussing it with you guys


Mary Sagheer, read on, it will be interesting to hear your thoughts.


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