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The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy [Kindle Edition]

Daniel Yergin , Joseph Stanislaw
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Commanding Heights is about the most powerful political and economic force in the world today -- the epic struggle between government and the marketplace that has, over the last twenty years, turned the world upside down and dramatically transformed our lives. Now, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Prize joins with a leading expert on the new marketplace to explain the revolution in ideas that is reshaping the modern world. Written with the same sweeping narrative power that made The Prize an enormous success, The Commanding Heights provides the historical perspective, the global vision, and the insight to help us understand the tumult of the past half century.
Trillions of dollars in assets and fundamental political power are changing hands as free markets wrest control from government of the "commanding heights" -- the dominant businesses and industries of the world economy. Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw demonstrate that words like "privatization" and "deregulation" are inadequate to describe the enormous upheaval that is unfolding before our eyes. Along with the creation of vast new wealth, the map of the global economy is being redrawn. Indeed, the very structure of society is changing. New markets and new opportunities have brought great new risks as well. How has all this come about? Who are the major figures behind it? How does it affect our lives?
The collapse of the Soviet Union, the awesome rise of China, the awakening of India, economic revival in Latin America, the march toward the European Union -- all are a part of this political and economic revolution. Fiscal realities and financial markets are relentlessly propelling deregulation; achieving a new balance between government and marketplace will be the major political challenge in the coming years. Looking back, the authors describe how the old balance was overturned, and by whom. Looking forward, they explore these questions: Will the new balance prevail? Or does the free market contain the seeds of its own destruction? Will there be a backlash against any excesses of the free market? And finally, The Commanding Heights illuminates the five tests by which the success or failure of all these changes can be measured, and defines the key issues as we enter the twenty-first century.
The Commanding Heights captures this revolution in ideas in riveting accounts of the history and the politics of the postwar years and compelling tales of the astute politicians, brilliant thinkers, and tenacious businessmen who brought these changes about. Margaret Thatcher, Donald Reagan, Deng Xiaoping, and Bill Clinton share the stage with the "Minister of Thought" Keith Joseph, the broommaker's son Domingo Cavallo, and Friedrich von Hayek, the Austrian economist who was determined to win the twenty-year "battle of ideas." It is a complex and wide-ranging story, and the authors tell it brilliantly, with a deep understanding of human character, making critically important ideas lucid and accessible. Written with unique access to many of the key players, The Commanding Heights, like no other book, brings us an understanding of the last half of the twentieth century -- and sheds a powerful light on what lies ahead in the twenty-first century.

Editorial Reviews Review

The "commanding heights," according to Pulitzer Prize-winner Daniel Yergin and international business advisor Joseph Stanislaw, are those dominant enterprises and industries that form the high economic ground in nations around the globe. In their analysis of the new world economy, The Commanding Heights: The Battle Between Government and the Marketplace That Is Remaking the Modern World, they examine "the individuals, the ideas, the conflicts, and the turning points" that are responsible. And by considering events such as the ongoing Asian monetary crisis, they suggest what the ultimate interconnection of financial markets might mean in the future.

From Booklist

Yergin and Stanislaw's global tour d'horizon doesn't extrapolate from the discrediting of various shades of socialism that free markets are here to stay. The situation varies from country to country. The authors report on the post^-World War II performance of significant national economies and, moreover, on the politicians who, starting with Margaret Thatcher, advocated the disengagement of the state from the economy. This work complements Robert Skidelsky's Road from Serfdom (1996), a readable analysis of how the predictions of free-market economist F. A. Hayek came true. The authors supplement their research with interviews of influential economists and politicians over the past two decades, such as those who implemented "shock therapies" in ex-communist countries. The authors' judgments are reasoned and seasoned, far from podium-pounding homilies on the free market; rather, they explain why the welfare state was so appealing after the war, then how it gradually sputtered into 1970s stagflation. Renders wide-ranging acquaintance with the basic ideas of contemporary economics. Gilbert Taylor

Product Details

  • File Size: 2256 KB
  • Print Length: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Rev Upd Su edition (June 15, 2002)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FBJH9Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,514 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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77 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended! March 13, 2001
The second half of the 20th century was marked by the ebb and flow of government influence over national and international economies. Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw characterize the balance between government and private marketplace clout as a battle for the commanding heights of the economy. They trace this fight back to the years after World War II, where they discover that capitalism had been widely discredited and governments were basking in the glow of wartime victory. With descriptions of the catalytic people and events that moved markets and policy, Yergin and Stanislaw have turned an essentially academic topic into a readable book, which is as much about economics as it is about history. As engaging as the stories are, don't assume you're in for a light read. Many business books today have plenty of sizzle, but not much steak. We at getAbstract recommend that you sink your teeth into this big, juicy T-bone of a book, a rare treat for intellectual readers searching for economic adventure and substantive history.
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54 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Interesting and Unfinished Story August 9, 2004
"The Commanding Heights" is well written and offers a very good historical overview of the economics of the middle and late 20th Century. There are wonderful historcal explanations of the rise of socialism in the west and communism in the east as well as the two grand economic schools in the west which were the products of John Maynard Keynes and Frederich Von Hayek. From this point the authors go on to give some form and explanation of globalization and the benefits and negative fallouts that are associated with it.

As a whole the book is absolutely worth reading, however keep in mind that the writers develope a certain point of view. The reader is left with the impression that after the free market revolutions of the 1980s Keynes was put to flight and it is obvious that what we need are even more open markets and that this is the solution to all the world's problems. Keep in mind that there are some goods and services that the market simply cannot deliver and like most cycles in history this debate is probably not settled.

As for their explanations on globalization they are pretty much on the mark. Obviously free markets are what is needed in most parts of the world and the move towards them will absolutely make the world a better place in the LONG run, but maybe a much less agreeable place in the short.

There are numerous supplements that I would recommend with this book, but I won't list them here. Make this a part of your journey to understand the wider world, but do not make the mistake of thinking this is the final answer. There is much more to learn and understand than this book offers. Great place to start however.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Should be found in the bookshelves of students December 26, 2002
By Ricky
As an Easterner, I could not understand the impact of F. Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" on economic development when I first read that book. Fortunately, "The Commanding Heights" provides me with the answer - Planned economy becomes the mainstream of Western societies after World War II and the system had brought these countries economic prosperity for several decades. There was a danger that the policy makers would think the system is a " cure-all" medicine. Free marketers such as Margaret Thatcher and Milton Friedman had to battle under that tough environment. Hayek's work however opens up the mind of Mrs. Thatcher and provides the foundation for the Renaissance of individualism.
"The Commanding Heights" is a book of economic history after World War II. The book covers the economic transformation of regions or countries such as U.S.A., Western Europe, Central Europe, Britain, China, India, Latin America and Southeast Asia. The background and achievement of key politicans and economists are also contained extensively. The messages of the books are clear - Free market economic system is better than planned economy and government's role should be shifted from market player to referee.
While I agree that the book is highly readable, some pieces are missing, still. Readers cannot find story of developed African countries such as South Africa and Egypt. If you want to know the economic history of the Middle East, you must be prepared to be disappointed. In addition, as the book is descriptive in nature, in-depth analysis on why centrally planning suddenly turns sour is lacking. These are my reasons that the book is rated as a four-star instead of five-star publication.
In all, the authors have done a tremendous job in the subject. This book should be short-listed as one of the textbooks for students studying economics or history.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Did You Say "A Lively Economics Book"? July 24, 2003
Don't be scared, Commanding Heights, in every sense, is a lively yet informative economics book. A text for everyone, from the main street person to Milton Friedman
The writers, Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw, are both players of the business world, and Ph.D. holders (Yergin's from Cambridge University, where he was Marshall Scholar, and Stanislaw holds a Ph.D. from Edinburgh University). Furthermore, Yergin's book "The Prize" was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. One could only expect a dry, scholarly frightening work from the two, but, surprisingly, Commanding Heights is anything but intimidating.
This is a very good introduction to 20th century's economic plans and philosophies- from Gandhi's "swadeshi" to Thatcherism of the late 1970s and 80s to the 'global economy' of the 90s and present.
The book's treatment of Thatcher and Thatcherism is very good and readable, and almost enlightening. The portrayal of Margaret Thatcher is illuminating, if not flattering for the subject. The Thatcher of the book is not the evil witch of left-wing politics, but that of a hard-working, decent and uncompromising woman from a lower middle class background. Her (political) partnership with Joseph Keith and her devotion to Keith's plan is intriguing, and her David-and-Goliath battles with the 'establishment' is inspirational. ("I am the rebel head of an establishment government" she once boasted). Keynesians beware- this book might turn you into a Thatcherite!
Another highlight is the book's treatment of Latin America's economic dogmas and policies. Here, Chapter Nine of the book, it reads like a dark, compelling, political thriller authored by Vargas Llosa (Not surprisingly, Llosa's name appears in this book). Like the rest of the book, this chapter is highly fascinating and lively.
With great clarity and intelligence, this is a highly recommended 'big' book. A great companion as we face a new century. READ IT!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great read
Published 2 months ago by Cubswin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book by excellent writer! Not as good as his book The Prize, but well worth reading
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice read!
Great summary of the ideological history that fed into the world of econonics, politics and international relations as we know it today. Read more
Published 5 months ago by SF
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Everything is centered on economics and Yergin understands how important oil is to a global economy.
Published 6 months ago by Joseph Coccia
1.0 out of 5 stars Communisim at it's best
I did not like this book whatsoever. I thought it to be very much like a communist way of living with so many of fabricated lies. Read more
Published 6 months ago by readbychoice
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing this book
Published 7 months ago by Jesús Alberto Bautista García
4.0 out of 5 stars I going to reread this as many times as I ...
I going to reread this as many times as I can just to remind me that there is a chasm between making a livelihood out of business and those that are out to see businesses falter on... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jorge Barbarosa
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 8 months ago by Mimi
5.0 out of 5 stars time machine
This book reallly takes you back in history!
Published 8 months ago by denise hernandez
3.0 out of 5 stars An OK followup to better works.
The lead author, Daniel Yergin, came to public acclaim with his 1991 Pulitzer Prize winning work, "The Prize" that offered insights into the world oil industry and its... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Newton Ooi
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