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The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can be Done About It (Grove Art) [Hardcover]

Paul Collier
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
Price: 20.85 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

24 May 2007 Grove Art
Global poverty is falling rapidly, but in around fifty failing states, the world's poorest people face a tragedy that is growing inexorably worse. This bottom billion live on less than a dollar a day and while the rest of the world moves steadily forward, this forgotten billion is left further and further behind with potentially serious consequences not only for them but for the stability of the rest of the world. Why do the states these people live in defy all the attempts of the international aid community to help them? Why does nothing seem to make a difference? In The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier pinpoints the issues of corruption, political instability and resource management that lie at the root of the problem. He describes the battle raging in these countries between corrupt leaders and would-be reformers and the factors such as civil war, dependence on the export of natural resources and lack of good governance that trap them into a downward spiral of economic and social decline. Collier addresses the fact that conventional aid has been unable to tackle these problems and puts forward a radical new plan of action including a new agenda for the G8 which includes more effective anti-corruption measures, preferential trade policies and where necessary direct military intervention. All of these initiatives are carefully designed to help the forgotten bottom billion, one of the key challenges facing the world in the twenty first century.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 222 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (24 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195311450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195311457
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 15.6 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Collier is Professor of Economics and Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University. He is a former Director of the Development Research group at the World Bank. His are aof research is the causes and consequences of civil war; the effects of aid; and the problems of democracy in low-income and natural-resource-rich societies. His multi-award-winning book The Bottom Billion was published in 2007.


Product Description

Review

A must-read for anyone who has tired of the emotionalism of the Geldof-Bono aid brigade. (Michela Wrong, New Statesman Books of the Year)

An important book. (Max Hastings, The Guardian)

Important and provocative. (Sunday Times)

Important new book... compelling. (New Statesman d)

Set to become a classic... his book should be compulsory reading for anyone embroiled in the hitherto thankless business of trying to pull people out of the pit of poverty. (The Economist)

Collier's is a better book than either Sachs's or Easterley's for two reasons. First, its analysis of the causes of poverty is more convincing. Second, its remedies are more plausible. (Niall Ferguson, International Herald Tribune)

This extraordinarily important book should be read by everyone who cares about Africa, but who recoils from the egotism and self-indulgence of Comic Relief and Live Aid. (Max Hastings, Sunday Times Review)

It is time to dispense with the false dichotomies that bedevil the current debate on Africa. 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. (Niall Ferguson, The New York Times Book Review)

Powerful...This important book wants citizens of G8 countries to fight for change. (Heather Stewart, Economics Editor, The Observer)

This is an arresting, provocative book. If you care about the fate of the poorest people in the world, and want to understand what can be done to help them, read it. If you don't care, read it anyway. (Tim Harford, Financial Times columnist and author of The Undercover Economist)

A splendid book... rich in both analysis and recommendations... Read this book. You will learn much you do not know. It will also change the way you look at the tragedy of persistent poverty in a world of plenty. (Martin Wolf, Financial Times)

[a] significant contribution... a good and helpful book. Collier uses his basic insight to challenge the conventional wisdom of both Left and Right. (Edward Hadas, TLS)

A path-breaking work providing penetrating insights into the largely unexplored borderland between economics and politics. (George Soros)

Paul Collier brilliantly anatomises the true causes of Africa's post-colonial failure. (Niall Fergusson, Sunday Telegraph)

Paul Collier's book is of great importance. He has shown clearly what is happening to the poorest billion in the world, why it is happening and what can be done to open up greater opportunities for them in a world of increasing wealth. His ideas should be at the centre of the policy debate. (Sir Nicholas Stern, Head of the UK Government Economic Service)

A good and helpful book. Collier uses his basic insight - that the poor are in a very different situation from the rest of the world - to challenge the conventional wisdom of both the Left and the Right. (Edward Hadas, TLS)

A powerful book. (New Zealand Herald)

About the Author


Paul Collier is Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University. Former director of Development Research at the World Bank, he is one of the world's leading experts on African economies, and is the author of Breaking the Conflict Trap, among other books.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
114 of 115 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pragmatic Approach to the Problem of Poverty 13 Dec 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a kid growing up in Nigeria, I thought that it was 'normal' that Latin Americans, Asians and Africans were classified as The Third World. Now as an adult, it seems that the only pictures of starving children I see on TV are those from my native continent. Despite the aid and attention that Africa has received in the last 20 years, most African countries are still stuck in pre-industrial poverty. Professor Collier's highly accessible book provides some illumination on the matter.

BOTTOM-BILLION IN BRIEF
The thesis of the book is that the economies of the poorest countries in the world, the so-called bottom-billion, have not grown in the last 30 years because they are stuck in one or more of the following traps: (1) the conflict trap; (2) the natural resource trap; (3) the "landlocked with bad neighbours" trap; and (4) the "bad governance in a small country" trap. Collier proposes the following solutions to the problems: (1) Military intervention; (2) adoption of voluntary laws and charters; and 3) changing rich-world trade policy.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE BOOK
The book is written in a logical, easy-to-read style. Professor Collier, former head of research at the World Bank, is remarkably familiar with African societies. He rightly points out that aid and revenue from commodities have enriched local parasitic elites, who prefer to maintain the status quo rather than invest in economic development; 'rent' money, based solely on patronage, funds the gravy train for elites. The narrative is laced with delectable anecdotes of author's travels in Africa. He recalls how he was treated as a celebrity in the Central African Republic and how, after he disclosed that he worked for the World Bank, he was shunned by the Immigration official in Nigeria.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read 2 Jan 2008
Format:Hardcover
This is a thought-provoking book: the problems of the poorest countries are deeply and cogently analysed and explained, and appropriate policies proposed. It has the added virtue of being written in simple and refreshingly straight-forward language. There is much that is absolutely original here.

The one comment I have is that Collier bases some of his policy prescriptions on the assumption that the only way to develop is through export, which seems to suggest export-led growth and large projects. There is nothing about micro projects and the need to work with the poor to alleviate poverty through the provision of appropriate/intermediate technology.

I e-mailed him about this and received a rapid and courteous reply saying that he did not have space in the book to cover everything and that he agreed that exporting only makes sense as a growth strategy for some countries and that he has no fault to find with the micro approach.

He also suggested I might write this review; so I did.

PS I also thoroughly recommend the lecture on his website.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Are you troubled by the grinding poverty in the poorest countries? If so, this book will give you hope that something more can be done.

How can a global economy that routinely produces new billionaires leave a billion people behind in countries where the economic prospects are bleak despite enormous spending aimed at turning things around? Obviously, the remedy isn't working. You could have figured that out for yourself without reading this book.

Professor Paul Collier takes us beyond that disquieting simplification to measure what some of the reasons are that contribute to the stalled economies in those countries (which are mostly located in sub-Saharan Africa and central Asia) where a billion people live.

The primary factors that he can isolate include frequent armed conflicts (coups, civil wars, and wars with other countries), producing high value natural resources that can be easily exported, having no access to the oceans while being surrounded by neighboring countries having a lot of problems, and poorly performing government in a small country. Armed conflicts not only take a lot of lives and do a lot of damage; armed conflicts drive people into new areas creating enormous dislocations and increased disease. Armed conflicts interrupt the ability to run a farm, a business, or to have a normal life. High value exports encourage those in government to seek payoffs from the exports while the exports drive up the value of the currency making local businesses less competitive with imports. If you are surrounded by bad neighbors, you cannot do much exporting or importing so your economy is stuck where it is. A poorly performing government simply siphons off funds into corruption.
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51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Despite well-publicised significant improvements in the average condition of several billion people in our world, there remain some one billion seriously poor people, and their condition is unlikely to improve. They are trapped, by conflicts, by possessing natural resources (sic), by being landlocked with bad neighbours, and/or by bad governance. Additionally, globalization is not going to help those caught in the trap. Do we have a responsibility to help? Yes, says Oxford professor of economics and African studies expert, Paul Collier, we do because we are citizens, and that status demands that we help our fellow human beings.

We are a book group of retired men, with experience in a wide range of disciplines and countries, who have read and discussed "The Bottom Billion". Without exception, we all found Collier's identification of this group of non-developing nations, and the problems they face, highly thought-provoking. We were particularly impressed by his use of researchers from different countries and disciplines, and the quantitative techniques used, to analyse the causes of those countries' problems, the impacts on them, and for identifying potential solutions. The power of these analyses was such that many of our preconceived views were changed and we were left wondering what, if anything, we could do as individuals to help the people of these countries escape from their terrible plight.

The Bottom Billion is very principled treatise that takes a close look at one of the biggest running sores in our world, and offers some solutions where many people may have said, sorrowfully, that no cure exists at all.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it. Read it. Lend it. Get it back. Read it again. (Repeat)
Fantastic book. Very informative. I don't think I have learnt more from any other book than I have from this one. Read more
Published 9 days ago by your dad
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book by Paul Collier
This is a must read. Paul Collier lays out all his theories on why the African continent despite all the foreign aid is still suffering. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sarah Lee
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly bias a t times
Very good and very intersting postion. Prof Collier is experienced and knowledgeable professional so the book by him must be full of interesting facts. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Magdalena
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book, but unbalanced and sometimes unnecessarily patronising
Overall, I enjoyed the book; it was easy to read and offered numerous suggestions that could help to provide assistance to those nations that have struggled to maintain sustainable... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Richard
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
A brilliant book, used it a lot for my dissertation on corruption and development. It's interesting enough to read for enjoyment and my professor loved the fact that I used this... Read more
Published 7 months ago by DS306
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
A really good book with some interesting and thought provoking ideas on economics. A must read for any economics a level student!
Published 8 months ago by Simzb96
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
An incredibly interesting and easy read for a book full of such rich information. A must read for anyone interesting in the subject or study of poverty.
Published 9 months ago by Antonia
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic informative book
a great book recommended to me by many people. I don't read a lot but i found this easy to read without getting bored
Published 17 months ago by Dyl
4.0 out of 5 stars book
very useful book for my studies at Bolton Universityam studying a Ba in community Studies
Thanks
Trish Hickey
Middleton MANCHESTER
Published 18 months ago by mishca
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking Book
This is an excellent, thought provoking book that is not afraid to ask the tough questions about why there is so much poverty in the world. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Dan Mollett
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