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The Commanding Heights : The Battle for the World Economy Paperback – April 2, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Rev Upd Su edition (April 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068483569X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684835693
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Although both books are excellent.
William J. Romanos
If you want to understand one of the most vital components of how the world works, the Commanding Heights is a great place to start.
J. C. Bare
I'm a few pages from the end and I've loved every page of this book.
"machika"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on March 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
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 By Grozarks on August 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"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 By Ricky on December 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
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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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. C. Bare on August 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Commanding Heights tells the fascinating history of the past century through economics. Starting with the reconstruction after the world wars, the rise of communism, socialism, and the economic slump of the 1970's through the rise of globalization and laissez-faire economics in the 1980's and 1990's.

The book is, without a doubt, the product of a particular time, and a particular point of view. In the late nineties, it seemed as though everything was going in the right direction, pretty much the world over. Even though this the book was revised post 9-11, it still retains the feeling that all roads lead inevitably to the free market and prosperity is the inevitable result. I wouldn't call the book one-sided, but the rise of the free market is definitely the theme.

I was left with a couple of questions unanswered by the book. The book describes the dominance of Keynesian economics (heavy government involvement) in the decades after WW2 and describes the descent of state-owned industry into stagnancy and inefficiency. Keynesian economics rebuilt Europe and Japan and delivered prosperity throughout the 50's and 60's. The failure of statist economics in the 1970's is well described in the book, but why did it work so well during the earlier decades?

Also, the Great Depression and its causes are only touched upon. The fear of market failures motivated the move to Keynesian state control of the economy. The decades before WWI were the last period of ascendency of capitalism and free trade and something went wrong. What went wrong and are we at risk of repeating the same mistakes?

That said, this is one of the most interesting books I've read this year. The political and economic developments in the news make so much more sense with the context of recent history. If you want to understand one of the most vital components of how the world works, the Commanding Heights is a great place to start.
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