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Underdevelopment Is a State of Mind: The Latin American Case Hardcover – March 15, 2000


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Lawrence E. Harrison teaches at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. He resides in Boston, Massachusetts.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Madison Books; Updated Edition edition (March 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568331479
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568331478
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #970,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Unlike one of the reviewers of this book which declared this book to reek of white supremacy stench, a portrayal which couldn't be further from the truth, I found this book to be very insightful and very well reasoned. I read this book as a recommendation from Thomas Sowell (a noted black economist and author of a trilogy on cultures - and one of my favorite authors and economists) and I found that he was right on the money with his recommendation. There is no reason in the world that any population, with or without natural resources, can't progress and become developed in a generation or -at most - two (as long as they have guarantee of liberty including the iron clad right to own property without danger of seizure from the government). The author reveals very well the stumbling blocks that prevent some countries from developing regardless of the billions given in foreign aid. Culture does play a part in this and in some cases - a major part. As an example, how do two countries of a comparable economic situation (Hong Kong - no natural resources - and Mexico - with considerable reserves of oil - in the early 50s) become so diverse in their development in a scant 50 years? Culture and economic liberty are an obvious answer. Do yourself a favor and read a copy of this book. It'll open your eyes utilizing clear and basic economics as to one of the root causes to third world poverty.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Henry Cate III on May 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was first written in 1985 and revised in 2000. In a nut shell the author looks at the history of Latin America, and argues that the classic explanation of the Dependency theory of Latin America's poverty relative to the United States is wrong. For a long time many people in Latin America blamed their problems on the rest of the world, and often the United States was the source of most evil. This was victimhood on an international level.
Harrison argues that this is wrong, and shows how the legacy of the Spanish and Catholic influences has produced a culture that is anti-progressive. I was a bit surprised at how often he brings up the importance of child rearing practices. This is a very well researched book. It was well written. It was very thought provoking.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By MADC on December 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I read this book a long time ago ...I actually borrowed it from a friend at the USAID office in Santo Domingo and never returned it. It was an eye opener and at the same time a confirmation for a lot of our opinions. This book is ,a very clear
description of the underdeveloped mind...the way of thinking and of viewing the world that we inherited from our spanish colonial era. Not only religion is a burden...but also the
rent-seeking ,oportunistic and corrupt ways of our politicians ....and worst of all...that we the people..don't do a thing to end this mess.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lemas Mitchell on May 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The books "Wealth and Poverty of Nations" (David Landes) and "Misadventures in the Tropics" (William Easterly) are actually more recent updates to this book. What makes this book different is that it is the culmination of YEARS of experience in the mentioned countries.

Good Points:

1. This book foreshadows a lot of themes that were taken up at greater length in other very good books, such as differing immigration patterns leading to different results ("Migrations and Culture," Sowell) and differing geographical circumstances leading to different classes of people ("Outliers," Gladwell). He does not get into the topics at great length, but the thinking that led him to his conclusions seems very clear.

2. The whole book can be read over the course of an afternoon, and the writing style is light, clear, and unpretentious.

3. The whole best part of the book is the way that he throws cold water on "dependency theory." One gets SO SICK of listening to theorists/ academics make up ideas (does Marxism EVER die?) and never bother to check the evidence (or just fabricate it) about the actual conditions of Latin America-- and how much of it dependency theory can actually explain. This author did a good job taking some initial steps toward so doing. There was not excessive detail here-- just enough to sketch the outline and tantalize the reader into reading more for himself.

4. The tying together of Marxist political philosophies as a cover for Latin America's failure was an interesting point. I wish he'd done a bit more with it, but what he did do was sufficiently brief and readable.

5. The Reader's Digest version of Spain's instability over the past couple of centuries was also very enjoyable (and enlightening).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James R. Coons on February 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As a missionary and previous director of an agency for the poor, I was blown away by this author's grasp of the root causes of poverty - particularly in South and Central America. Brace yourself if you buy into the "victim mindset" and read this book.
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