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on 30 September 2017
The authors absolutely have a point.
Well written with many historic examples, the authors challenge some main stream prejudices and miss concepts with interesting position and arguments. Sometimes impressive, sometimes sounding a bit biased, but they definitely have a point and deserve reading.
it opens an eye, or two.
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on 5 November 2017
I love it
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on 11 December 2017
Great
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on 4 December 2017
thanks good quality
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on 20 October 2017
Fantastic!
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on 12 February 2015
I romped through this book in a couple of days and have been musing over it for the past 24 hours – so it gets full marks for its readability and provocation. It helps that its 500 plus pages consist really of short potted histories of various countries selected to illustrate its main thesis about institutions, power, privilege and challenge. In that sense it has similarities with the charming books of Robert Greene which deal with such issues as power, seduction and war.
But there are inexcusable major omissions and weaknesses in this book by two American Professors (
Acemoglu an economist; Robinson a political scientist) which promises a distinctive lens with which to view history, namely that of “extractive institutions” and “countervailing power” and which suggests western societies owe their pre-eminence to their “inclusive institutions”.
When they define what they mean by this phrase, we get a paean to liberal or capitalist democracy – which I find a tad….well… curious given that the book was drafted in the aftermath of the 2008 global crisis; the spread since then of disgust at the behaviour of the power elites; of deepening concern about the scale of inequality within the west; and of massive alienation from political parties and voting.

I would therefore have expected a suggestion that the west is now in danger of going the same way as others – and for the same reason….But no - the book ends on a note of almost laughable complacency. “Failure” is what has happened to Africa and most of Asia (apart from Japan and South Korea) and will, according to the 10 page analysis they give China in the concluding chapter, also be the fate of that country’s current effort….

It is in this concluding chapter at the very least that I would have expected to see a recognition that Contemporary Europe and North America are showing the very same exclusion and "extractive" power which they have identified as the fatal weakness of the powerful - but this passes our authors by!! If ever there was a case of "institutional exclusion" of citizens, it is what we have been experiencing in the past decade. But these don't figure on the author's radar screen. Not a single reference, for example, to the extensive “end of oil” literature – or to the recent important Rebalancing Society of Canadian management theorist Henry Mintzberg. There is a passing reference to the different use of patents in Europe a hundred years ago - but no mention of the variety of the variety of major ways in which resources are now sucked from citizens and passed to the ruling elites eg military expenditure; pharmaceuticals; “intellectual ownership”; marketing; privatisation; commodification etc
Astonishingly it is only on the second last page that the authors mention the role of the media as a change agent!! And this in a book which purports to be about power.

Karl Popper’s The Open Society and its Enemies (1945) is, of course, a work of political philosophy - not history – but should be a key reference in any work which purports to offer “countervailing power” as a driver of history.
Paul Hirst was another political scientist who developed in the 70s and 80s the notion of “associative democracy” (people power) which was taken up by thinkers such as Will Hutton and morphed, in the 1990s, into the vision of a “stakeholder society”. With Mintzberg, these are the authors we should be paying attention to.
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on 21 December 2016
Living in Extremadura, the homeland of many a famous Spanish conquistador, its hard not to look up at the towering statue of Pizarro valiantly astride his bronze horse, sitting uncomfortably against the knowledge of his exploits in Peru. For a landlocked region, it seems a mystery that the likes of Pizarro, Cortés and Nuñez grew up here. The collapse of Spain as an empire and the demise of its conquering days are perhaps less of a mystery, given its fragility as a stable, democratic country, at least until modern times.

Given the level of extraction of resources in our globalised society, I wonder whether this book missed this dimension within its analysis, or at least could have applied its findings to the modern world beyond nation's borders. There may no longer be Spanish, British, Japanese or Dutch empires but the global exploitation of workers through cheap labour and poor conditions is still performed through familiar economic means that drove their centralised power.

Still, it sets the scene for the modern world, and perhaps the alt-right negative view of green technologies is reflected in the book's own position regarding creative destruction suppression throughout history in the form of protectionism for existing industries powering the wealthy.

Whilst I didn't consider it an insightful read, it was an academic one whose indicators and evidence regarding the origins of power, prosperity and poverty are threaded well enough throughout to make a coherent theme, analysis and conclusion: politics, power and corruption. There is nothing new under the sun.
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on 25 March 2017
Great Book the family are wanting to borrow it.
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on 20 March 2017
The authors hardly mention Pakistan as failed state .....BUT I feel like it is written about Pakistan. Most of the examples of different countries perfectly fit to the scenarios in Pakistan.
1)The acquisition of Telmex, the Mexican telecommunications by Carlos Slim and the privatisation of PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited)
2) Joseph Mobutu of Congo building a palace and making airport for supersonic Concord jet which he rented frequently form France for his shopping trips to Europe ...Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif took aeroplane out of normal operations , from struggling Pakistani airline PIA to bring him back from London after his heart surgery. He does this frequently
3) In Europe Joseph Mobutu bought castles and owned large tracts of the Belgian capital of Brussels Pakistani PM has very expensive four Flats in Park Lane London , which he was forced to admit recently after the leaked Panama papers ...the case is in the Supreme court awaiting decision
And the list goes on ......
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on 24 April 2017
Very simple theory: extractive political institutions lead to extractive economic systems where the rich get richer at the expense of everyone else - including the merchants and entrepreneurs. Leading to economic stagnation (fear of innovation and "creative destruction") and nation failure.

The authors produce LOTS of evidence to argue this position - showing instances throughout history. What they don't do is highlight many instances where inclusive politics leads to more inclusive economic systems and more sustainable growth. Instead they keep harking back to the so-called Glorious Revolution in the UK in 1688 setting the stage for the Industrial Revolution. Oh and Botswana..?! So a bit depressing really!

There is little consideration with how broad the political/economic engagement needs to be. Also no discussion on globalization - in my view MNC companies have huge influence over any one country's government.

Good read nevertheless.
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