Why Nations Fail is a masterpiece of historical study. It describes the causes of the failure and prosperity of a dozen countries in the world. To some extent the book reviews and rebukes, through counterexamples, well-settled theories that focus on geography, resources, tech coincidences etc. Alternatively, its thesis concentrates on the value of inclusive political and economic institutions, conjoined with states powerful enough to enact state rules. The authors scrutinize examples from almost every continent, by taking into consideration countries such as the US, China, Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, France, England, Germany, Russia, Japan, and many, many more.
Anyway, the book argues that to understand the failure of many nations to develop and become rich we must look at political institutions and the incentives they create for leaders. It does demonstrate through a wealth of historical examples that institutions can be self-perpetuating that bad institutions strengthen bad leaders and sort of help to keep those bad leaders in place.
I don’t want to spoil the plot but in my opinion, the last chapter is the best. It summarises the findings, warns about policy pitfalls and suggests paths forward. I also think that it brings a positive message and hope that future of our society will be getting better in general terms.
Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty
by Daron Acemoglu
Size: 544 pages
Additional information and reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12158480-why-nations-fail
Other useful links:
Acemoglu’s website on MIT: https://economics.mit.edu/faculty/acemoglu
Daron Acemoglu on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daron_Acemoglu
Other book about world order and prosperity: World Order by Henry Kissinger and The Value of Everything by Mariana Mazzucato