Wealth and Poverty of Nations Hardcover – 1 Dec 1998
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Professor David S. Landes takes an historic approach to the analysis of the distribution of wealth in this landmark study of world economics. Landes argues that the key to today's disparity between the rich and poor nations of the world stems directly from the Industrial Revolution, in which some countries made the leap to industrialisation and became fabulously rich, while other countries failed to adapt and remained poor. Why some countries were able to industrialise and others weren't has been the subject of much heated debate over the decades; climate, natural resources and geography have all been put forward as explanations--and are all brushed aside by Landes in favour of his own controversial theory: that the ability to effect an industrial revolution is dependent on certain cultural traits, without which industrialisation is impossible to sustain. Landes contrasts the characteristics of successfully industrialised nations-- work, thrift, honesty, patience and tenacity--with those of non-industrial countries, arguing that until these values are internalised by all nations, the gulf between the rich and the poor will continue to grow. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
A masterpiece (Norman Stone)
One of the most important works of history to appear in my lifetime (A N Wilson)
For once, amazingly, a book lives up to the hype ... a blast of fresh air, a work of militant good sense (EVENING STANDARD)
Gripping ... well worth reading (OBSERVER) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
The book deals on a global scale with the development of national economies and the forces upon them. The section on South America, the history of the creation of these countries was new to me and very interesting. Anyone who wishes to understand the nature of national and global finance should learn a lot from this work. The questions that bedevil economics for which, every so often, every accepted model falls to the floor can only be understood by the kind of knowledge and thinking deployed within this book. Like several works out of Harvard professorial offices I have come across, it has the great gift of high scholarship effortlessly provided in the simplest fashion, the sign of scholarship at its best. There is no impulse to impress anyone, only to ask questions and try to find suitable answers. This is the most impressive writing on the subject I have seen.
The third World will largely remain poor while corruption (either governmental, religious or unofficial) flourishes and freedom is hampered, and therefore takes away the incentive for an attempt at personal progress.
I would also recommend a look at Jared Diamond's 'Guns, Germs and Steel'. Completely different from Landes' view. Landes believes culture (laws, freedoms, rights, propert rights) plays a major part where as Jared believes Europe, America and Japan were 'lucky' to be where they were, although this does not explain Australia's, European South Africa's and Hong Kongs great creation of Wealth in previously poor areas, and the Third worlds inability to grow wealthy despite access to the First worlds technology and know how.
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