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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For anyone interested in the world
Revolutions have made and remade the economy for hundreds of years. In The Fourth Revolution, John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge ponder the shape the next one may take. There are signs the current form of Western government is not best suited to the rules which modern technology and new media are inventing for themselves. And how are developing Eastern powers...
Published 13 months ago by Rachel Kelly

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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ... two senior editors at The Economist and unsurprisingly reads like an extended Economist article
This book has been written by two senior editors at The Economist and unsurprisingly reads like an extended Economist article. Whilst this makes it well researched and enjoyable to read I found their argument was ultimately confused.

This book covers the three and half revolutions that they defined to have occurred in Western political thought. The first...
Published 12 months ago by Matt King


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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ... two senior editors at The Economist and unsurprisingly reads like an extended Economist article, 8 July 2014
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This book has been written by two senior editors at The Economist and unsurprisingly reads like an extended Economist article. Whilst this makes it well researched and enjoyable to read I found their argument was ultimately confused.

This book covers the three and half revolutions that they defined to have occurred in Western political thought. The first revolution is that of the centralised state that arose in the seventeenth century. The second took place in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as regal patronage systems were replaced by more meritocratic and accountable governments. The third was the rise of the welfare state that slowly took place over the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. They then define a half revolution in political thought taking place in the 1980s with the rise to prominence again of classical liberal thinking. This was only half a revolution in their mind since, whilst the political leaders espoused small government ideals, little was actually in actually shrinking the size of the state.

This is where the book excels. Its coverage of the history and development of Western political thought is superb.

Unfortunately on the back of this the authors make the case that Western states have become bloated and need to be dramatically reformed. Whilst I am sure many would agree with that I felt their subsequent arguments were confused. They expounded the virtues of the Singapore and Chinese states (whilst admitting some of their flaws) but true to their Economist background then went on to claim the only solution to the West’s political anxieties is a return to laissez faire. As the FT put it, in their review “an unkind description of this approach would be one of policy-based evidence making“. As another criticism, I think the book would benefit from a deeper look at the development of states in Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe as it focusses primarily on Western and (East) Asian political thinking.

The authors are right that the West needs to adapt and it is important that these issues are considered especially with the rise of new technologies that could help transform the state. But whilst I think the book is great at highlighting the dysfunctions of the modern Western state I remained unconvinced of their argument for what they consider to be the right reforms. It has found the problem, but not the cure.

3.5/5 stars.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For anyone interested in the world, 12 Jun. 2014
This review is from: The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State (Hardcover)
Revolutions have made and remade the economy for hundreds of years. In The Fourth Revolution, John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge ponder the shape the next one may take. There are signs the current form of Western government is not best suited to the rules which modern technology and new media are inventing for themselves. And how are developing Eastern powers outstripping us at such a rate? The book takes us from us from Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan to the fathers of Utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill; from Silicon Valley to Singapore. It also opens our eyes to the eccentric, secret (or some not so secret) string pullers of the world.

The facts The Fourth Revolution puts forward are of course worrying: that democracies of the Western model are being shown up economically by rising, sometimes autocratic, Eastern powers isn't good news for our idealism. (China's growth showing the largest and quickest reduction of poverty in history.) The suggestion that we may start needing to take example from ideologies we have since identified against is scary stuff indeed. But this is an insightful, clear-eyed, no-holds-bared book, giving equal weight to other non-standard models which are prospering while upholding admirable moral ideologies. A truly inspiring case is that of Devi Shetty's 1,000 bed heart hospitals in Bangalore, where 40 surgeons perform 400 to 600 operations a week with a higher success rate than pretty much anywhere else in the world. Here, open-heart surgery can cost $2,000 to perform in comparison to the US's $100,000 per operation. The rich pay for the poor, but costs remain low, with the businesses turning a healthy profit. Other nations are looking to Shetty's model for advice

This is an eye-opening and above all engaging book. The stakes are high, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the world, regardless of their knowledge of economics.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Counter Enlightenment, 24 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State (Hardcover)
That ,for example ,China has studied closely the Western Intellectual Tradition and come to the conclusion that the political manifestation of it is not fit for their purposes and that other Countries have come to adopt similar positions is a key takeaway from this absorbing book.So it will only be a matter of time before we see on display in certain Capitals of the world statues to Lee Kwan Yew who has been a particular role model for the Chinese.Of course Westerners like to poke fun at the tiny city state with it's almost one party system and at times petty social prohibitions but it delivers the goods (public and otherwise) to it's diverse citizens and plans for the long term.It is however much more difficult to poke fun at China and their State Capitalism model which has transformed the lives of millions of people over the past few decades.There is no doubt that many Countries struggle with western style democracy/capitalism and this book presents a case for an alternative path - Mr Lee should take much of the credit for showing the way.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great historical overview, not so great policy recommendations and future projections, 16 July 2014
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Ondrej (Cambridge, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Authors openly admit what their ideologies are, specifically liberals, but not libertarians. That alone hinted at a possible lack of bias in throughout the book and that has largely been delivered. We get a nice overview of laissez-faire tendencies as well as the rise of the welfare state without any simplified criticisms.

The book reads very well, the description of history is well structured and links to a lot of primary sources. As we get closer to the 21st century, I get more excited as to what grounding the authors have for the argument that the rise of limited states is inevitable. But that never comes. The end of the book is a bizarre mish mash of ass derived policy recommendations that are inconsistent throughout the book.

We never get to find out why the welfare state has failed or what tendencies will make it a thing of the past. There is a lot of "should", "have to", "ideally" etc., but little is grounded in data and well supported arguments. There's surprisingly little evidence in the book. Authors mention numbers from time to time, for a country or two, but not much more.

I really wanted to like this book and I really did love the first bit, the historical description. But once the authors get to the policy recommendations and predictious about the future, I just wanted the book to end, because I learned nothing from those. Too bad.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 7 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State (Hardcover)
If you wish to educate yourself about the state of the world today, read this book. Wonderfully explained, and written in the easy style which is like a story and very easy to understand. Just look around you , it is all there for all, except the deliberately blind, to see, hence the saying "There are non so blind as they who won't see" The Lord help us if we don't heed the warnings in this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Easy to read, 26 Oct. 2014
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R. McLennan "TallScotsGuy" (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State (Hardcover)
Great book. Easy to read. Easy to understand. Full of examples of existing governmental systems in the world that actually work. Examples of well run hospitals that are more efficient, cleaner and happier than anything in the USA or UK...that cost 10% of the amounts spent in the US! Countries where gov costs are 20% of GDP yet services are better than the UK where costs are 48% of GDP.
Written by two writers from The Economist, it should be compulsory reading for all politicians of all colours or anyone with an interest in how Government should be run!
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5.0 out of 5 stars the definitive book on 'the State', 26 Feb. 2015
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Thoroughly comprehensive in its sweep, charting the development of and successes and failures of 'The State'. So glad some smart minds are being applied to this challenge. I have no doubt that this will become the definitive book on 'the state'. Should be compulsory reading for anybody concerned with the reform of government and the role of the outdated state in this globalised world.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great starting point in understanding our options, 24 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State (Hardcover)
Some good thoughtful points raised during the book and the conclusion were very well constructed. However some alternative theories were often dismissed in the book as unimportant when considering modern society.

However I recommend the book as a starting point in understanding our options for ensuring we can provide a future that supports our current living standatrds.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A significant book for our times., 28 Jun. 2014
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Thought provoking and very relevant for the issues facing many western economies and states today. Well researched from guys who clearly understand the issues.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Book. Good read, 17 July 2014
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Interesting and relevant. Quite predictive of actual events
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The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State
The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State by John Micklethwait (Hardcover - 15 May 2014)
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