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The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State [Kindle Edition]

John Micklethwait , Adrian Wooldridge
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

From the bestselling authors of The Right Nation, a visionary argument that our current crisis in government is nothing less than the fourth radical transition in the history of the nation-state

Dysfunctional government: It’s become a cliché, and most of us are resigned to the fact that nothing is ever going to change. As John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge show us, that is a seriously limited view of things. In fact, there have been three great revolutions in government in the history of the modern world. The West has led these revolutions, but now we are in the midst of a fourth revolution, and it is Western government that is in danger of being left behind.

Now, things really are different. The West’s debt load is unsustainable. The developing world has harvested the low-hanging fruits. Industrialization has transformed all the peasant economies it had left to transform, and the toxic side effects of rapid developing world growth are adding to the bill. From Washington to Detroit, from Brasilia to New Delhi, there is a dual crisis of political legitimacy and political effectiveness.

The Fourth Revolution crystallizes the scope of the crisis and points forward to our future. The authors enjoy extraordinary access to influential figures and forces the world over, and the book is a global tour of the innovators in how power is to be wielded. The age of big government is over; the age of smart government has begun. Many of the ideas the authors discuss seem outlandish now, but the center of gravity is moving quickly.

This tour drives home a powerful argument: that countries’ success depends overwhelmingly on their ability to reinvent the state. And that much of the West—and particularly the United States—is failing badly in its task. China is making rapid progress with government reform at the same time as America is falling badly behind. Washington is gridlocked, and America is in danger of squandering its huge advantages from its powerful economy because of failing government. And flailing democracies like India look enviously at China’s state-of-the-art airports and expanding universities.

The race to get government right is not just a race of efficiency. It is a race to see which political values will triumph in the twenty-first century—the liberal values of democracy and liberty or the authoritarian values of command and control. The stakes could not be higher.

Editorial Reviews


In their brilliantly incisive book - just as sparkling as their studies of religion, God is Back, and of America, The Right Nation - Micklethwait and Wooldridge claim that the West is losing ground to the East in the taming of Leviathan ... Having repeatedly reinvented the state to deliver law and order, liberty and welfare, they argue, the West now needs a 'fourth revolution' to create a leaner, more efficient state to preserve freedom and democracy. It is a compelling argument -- Daniel Johnson Standpoint The great challenge of the next decade will ... be to fix government ... Micklethwait and Wooldridge's must-read manifesto is a plea for more reform, inspired this time by successful reforms in other countries and the harnessing of the digital revolution -- Allister Heath Telegraph The best current manifesto on the proper roles for market and state, intelligent but also accessible to a lay reader ... This book is also the single best statement of the thesis that these days government simply is not working very well, and that such an insight is recognized by many voters better than by many intellectuals ... Definitely recommended -- Tyler Cowen Marginal Revolution The cost of government is no longer an ivory-tower whinge ... [a] splendid diatribe -- Simon Jenkins Mail on Sunday In their excellent new book ... John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge argue persuasively that too much is expected of modern government, in a democratic culture that is both cynical and increasingly impatient -- Matthew D'Ancona Sunday Telegraph

About the Author

John Micklethwait is the editor in chief of The Economist. After studying history at Magdalen College, Oxford, he worked as a banker at Chase Manhattan before joining The Economist as a finance correspondent in 1987. He was named an Editors’ Editor by the British Society of Magazine Editors in 2010.

Adrian Wooldridge is The Economist’s management editor and writes the Schumpeter column. He was previously based in Washington, D.C., as the Washington bureau chief, where he also wrote the Lexington column. Together they are the authors of five books: The Witch Doctors, A Future Perfect, The CompanyThe Right Nation, and God Is Back.

Product Details

  • File Size: 9354 KB
  • Print Length: 313 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1594205396
  • Publisher: The Penguin Press (May 15, 2014)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00G3L12RK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,942 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
103 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Book May 14, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
'The Fourth Revolution' is a tour de force.

Authors John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, both of the Economist (London) have written a book that merits a place in the shelves of decision makers in government, the private sector, and the not-for-profit world. Its ideas will, hopefully, make their way to dinner table conversations across America.

A few points for your consideration as a prospective reader:

1. 'The Fourth Revolution' is a straight shot against those oft-heard voices who suggest that the current dysfunction of government is inevitable. Instead, it's suggested that there have been a series of changes since the origination of the modern nation-state. Thus far, each has added value, incorporating needed adaptation to deal with changing circumstances.

This is important, because it suggests that we have a greater responsibility than simply throwing up our hands and walking away from the governmental crisis in our midst.

2. Government dysfunction is endemic worldwide. There are also exemplars--at least partial exemplars--in other nations of replicable improvements. The book points to success stories from Australia to Sweden to Singapore.

3. The incapacity of Western governments to come to necessary decisions and take actions in a timely manner poses significant questions for our competitive position vis-a-vis Asian nations. In turn, it may well come to constitute a national security threat.

4. In the United States, the blessings of longstanding peace and prosperity--and having had no war on American soil since the Civil War--have enabled politics to avoid hard choices. There has been little evident cost to this sloppiness.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Crisis of Political Imagination Redux May 31, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book comes on the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Glenn Tinder's classic work, The Crisis of Political Imagination. Tinder's book dealt with mass disintegration and the isolation of the individual, along with the failure of the four main classifications of political thinking (liberalism, democracy, socialism and conservatism) to deal with the alienation of great numbers of people from political life specifically and society in general. Sadly, political imagination continues to be in crisis a half century after it was diagnosed by Tinder.

Micklethwait and Wooldridge are editors of the Economist (" a global weekly magazine written for those who share an uncommon interest in being well and broadly informed"). They describe what they call three and a half revolutions in the evolution of government and the state:

1. Thomas Hobbes and the Nation-State
2. John Stuart Mill and the Liberal State
3. Beatrice Webb and the Welfare State
4. Milton Friedman's Paradise Lost

Hobbes' contribution was to describe Leviathan, in which the first duty of the state is to be powerful enough to provide law and order. The power of the state frees man from misery and makes human civilization possible. Prior to the existence of the state, man was tossed between fear and greed into an existence that was, by its very nature, brief and brutish. By giving up some of his autonomy to the state, man could work and survive without having to defend himself at every turn from his fellow human beings.

Mill feared Leviathan nearly as much as (or even more than) he feared his fellow man.
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63 of 77 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've read lots of books on how to reform government and solve social problems. Most are full of good ideas that will never ever be adopted in the real world. This volume is different. Rather than just assuming human nature will suddenly and magically change to allow reforms to be enacted, we are brought back to first principles and history, to see both what problems reformers in other eras faced, their reasoning for seeking change, and the results of their efforts. Why should we care? Because many of our hardest-fought current political battles are impossible to either understand or resolve without that background.

In addition, this book does not focus on only U.S. issues. Rather, it relates those well to similar issues in Europe and Asia, memorably explaining WHY (for example) China is more interested in how Singapore is run than in how Washington DC is run. Those despairing of any good news emerging from D.C. will be glad to hear of recent hope from such other places as Singapore, India, and Sweden. And whether you are a Progressive, OWS supporter, Conservative, Tea Partier or Libertarian, you will find important points being made about your views - things you will want to have considered well before your next political discussion.

This book for me is not just a keeper. I'll be buying a Kindle copy immediately for a politician friend who shares many of my goals but favors a different party, and another for my own Kindle, so it can always be with me.

Very highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A revolution or continuation of the ideas of Milton Friedman?
John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge's book 'The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to reinvent the State' has some expansive ambitions. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Trevor Neal
4.0 out of 5 stars I have seen the future - and its not working
A first class synthesis of what ails our bodies politic - and some ideas on how to fix it. From Washington gridlock to our resentment of the intrusions of the nanny state - and our... Read more
Published 1 month ago by David Wilder
5.0 out of 5 stars reform the public sector to save democracy
I liked reading about how different countries have solved problems. I liked the review of the first three revolutions. I liked the shift in argument from left vs right to reform. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jim Balloun
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Required reading by our elected officials.
Published 2 months ago by bill and phyl
5.0 out of 5 stars ... in Political Science with an economic bent will be glad they read...
Anyone interested in Political Science with an economic bent will be glad they read this book. It's not for silly putty and political labelests who prefer their politics with pap.
Published 2 months ago by Mae S.
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it. The quotations about the brain functions can ...
Simply written.. Intellectual but by no means controversial. Practical, albeit simplistic display of how change will take place. Very optimistic about the human future. I liked it. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lofty Basta MD
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking
Good overview on the rise of the welfare state and the authors' views on how it can be reformed. Some hope that the nanny state can be slimmed down. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mighty whig
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book. Nice read. Historic perspective very interesting.
Published 3 months ago by Joanne Marcotte
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. A reading to understand the deep reasons beyond ...
Excellent. A reading to understand the deep reasons beyond the austerity debate and the need to rethink our public welfare and investments priorities. Very open minded. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Antonio Sanchez Pareja
3.0 out of 5 stars The Overly Breathless Title Gives It Away
This is a useful overview of how a few states (countries) are trying new approaches to providing public services and organizing their public sectors. Read more
Published 3 months ago by L. Geri
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