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The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time Paperback – February 28, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Celebrated economist Jeffrey Sachs has a plan to eliminate extreme poverty around the world by 2025. If you think that is too ambitious or wildly unrealistic, you need to read this book. His focus is on the one billion poorest individuals around the world who are caught in a poverty trap of disease, physical isolation, environmental stress, political instability, and lack of access to capital, technology, medicine, and education. The goal is to help these people reach the first rung on the "ladder of economic development" so they can rise above mere subsistence level and achieve some control over their economic futures and their lives. To do this, Sachs proposes nine specific steps, which he explains in great detail in The End of Poverty. Though his plan certainly requires the help of rich nations, the financial assistance Sachs calls for is surprisingly modest--more than is now provided, but within the bounds of what has been promised in the past. For the U.S., for instance, it would mean raising foreign aid from just 0.14 percent of GNP to 0.7 percent. Sachs does not view such help as a handout but rather an investment in global economic growth that will add to the security of all nations. In presenting his argument, he offers a comprehensive education on global economics, including why globalization should be embraced rather than fought, why international institutions such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank need to play a strong role in this effort, and the reasons why extreme poverty exists in the midst of great wealth. He also shatters some persistent myths about poor people and shows how developing nations can do more to help themselves.

Despite some crushing statistics, The End of Poverty is a hopeful book. Based on a tremendous amount of data and his own experiences working as an economic advisor to the UN and several individual nations, Sachs makes a strong moral, economic, and political case for why countries and individuals should battle poverty with the same commitment and focus normally reserved for waging war. This important book not only makes the end of poverty seem realistic, but in the best interest of everyone on the planet, rich and poor alike. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Sachs came to fame advising "shock therapy" for moribund economies in the 1980s (with arguably positive results); more recently, as director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, he has made news with a plan to end global "extreme poverty"--which, he says, kills 20,000 people a day--within 20 years. While much of the plan has been known to economists and government leaders for a number of years (including Kofi Annan, to whom Sachs is special advisor), this is Sachs's first systematic exposition of it for a general audience, and it is a landmark book.For on-the-ground research in reducing disease, poverty, armed conflict and environmental damage, Sachs has been to more than 100 countries, representing 90% of the world's population. The book combines his practical experience with sharp professional analysis and clear exposition. Over 18 chapters, Sachs builds his case carefully, offering a variety of case studies, detailing small-scale projects that have worked and crunching large amounts of data. His basic argument is that "[W]hen the preconditions of basic infrastructure (roads, power, and ports) and human capital (health and education) are in place, markets are powerful engines of development." In order to tread "the path to peace and prosperity," Sachs believes it is encumbant upon successful market economies to bring the few areas of the world that still need help onto "the ladder of development." Writing in a straightfoward but engaging first person, Sachs keeps his tone even whether discussing failed states or thriving ones. For the many who will buy this book but, perhaps, not make it all the way through, chapters 12 through 14 contain the blueprint for Sachs's solution to poverty, with the final four making a rigorous case for why rich countries (and individuals) should collectively undertake it--and why it is affordable for them to do so. If there is any one work to put extreme poverty back onto the global agenda, this is it. (Mar. 21)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (February 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143036580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143036586
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (212 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Omer Belsky on October 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Jeffery Sachs' "The End of Poverty" is three books in one: First, it is an exploration of the world, focusing on economics but surveying wide array of topics regarding international relations and politics, and offers a portrait of the planet today. Second, it is a crash course in development economics. Finally, it is an impassioned plea for more western aid to poor countries particularly in Africa.

I know of no better book for understanding the current state of the world. In several brilliant
Chapters, Sachs takes us through the hyperinflation of Bolivia, the post Cold War transition to market economies in Poland, Russia, India and China, and the struggles for existence in Sub Saharan Africa. All these are put into context of International Relations, Economics and Politics, and personified through Sachs' description of his own role in these happenings. It's a tour de force.

The weaknesses here are the complete absence of the Middle East, and Sachs' all-too-human tendency to portray himself as the epicenter of the events he describes, convincing Polish politicians to accept responsibility, and leading the fight against hyper inflation in Bolivia. But his involvement has not necessarily been as influential or beneficial as he portrays it: Bolivia, at least, can hardly be called a success story; Even though Sachs praises both its leaders and its policies, Bolivia is still not up to its 1980 level of GDP per Capita (p. 108).

As a primer on development economics, "The End of Poverty" is a more of a mixed bag. At best, it offers powerful insights, particularly about the importance of Geography to economic development.
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Format: Hardcover
A wonderful thesis. The initial tone and first-hand accounts and analyses (Chapters 1-4) are great. Sachs' first few chapters read like Thomas Friedman, only Sachs publishes in journals and Friedman publishes in the New York Times. And Friedman has a few best sellers. Sachs is a very smart, accomplished, compassionate economist.

Sachs tries to provide some context. He seems to have personally saved first Bolivia (Chapter 5), then Poland (Chapter 6), then Russia (Chapter 7), then China (Chapter 8), and then India (Chapter 9), not from poverty, but from the mistakes of (American) foreign policy, greedy bankers, and the IMF. He always seems to get it right and they're wrong. He decries their solutions in favor of his own: demand debt forgiveness.

Then Sachs shifts into using his economic, statistical, and networking skills to propose solutions to eradicate poverty. His fundamental argument is that the rich countries need to give more money to the poor countries, and he seems pretty angry about the lack of compassion, especially from the United States, for the world's poor. Perhaps Sachs could start with his home institution, Harvard. This university has an almost egregious endowment in excess of $22 billion, pays its top fund manager $50 million a year, and employs Andrei Shleifer who "was discovered by the U.S. government to be making personal investments in Russia at the same time that he was on a U.S. government contract to advise the Russian leadership on privatization." (p. 144) This privatization effort, as Sachs reports, sold $100 billion in assets for $1 billion. Sachs thinks that we should then forgive the Russian government its debts.
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Format: Paperback
Sachs covers a lot of ground: a bit of world economic history, a bit of travelogue, moral arguments for foreign aid, and ... The Plan (to end world poverty by 2025).

The Plan itself, while mostly fascinating to read (with patches of exhausting technical detail), has its challenges. The biggest problem is that, while the investments he outlines will theoretically jump-start growth, it has never been tested, and the West has a long history of failed development ideas. Among other more technical points, Sachs either underestimates the inefficiencies in the aid agencies and in governments, or he overestimates the ease of overcoming them.

But the plan (and how to pay for it) makes up only four out of eighteen chapters. Here is what else awaits you: a brief economic history of the world and characterization of the rich-poor divides in the world today (chapters 1 and 2), a primer on growth economics (chapter 3), Sachs's prescription for how development economics should be practiced (chapter 4), tales of Sachs's very high level consulting in Bolivia, Poland, and Russia (chapters 5 through 7), economic histories of India and China (chapters 8 and 9), an overview of the economic and health situation in Africa (chapter 10), Sachs's views on how the West should respond to terrorism (chapter 11), The Plan (and how to pay for it (chapters 12 through 15), dispelling myths about why aid doesn't work (chapter 16), and the pep talk (chapters 17 and 18). The book can largely be read piecemeal. I particularly enjoyed chapters 1, 5 through 9, and 16.

One wearisome feature is the self-promotion. Sachs is the center of everything good that happens in this book.
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