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The Fix: How Nations Survive and Thrive in a World in Decline Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 20, 2016
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“An indispensable handbook. . . . Smart and agile. . . . The timing of this book could not be better. . . . Tepperman goes into impressive detail in each case study and delivers assessments in clear, pared-down prose.” —Michael Hirsh, The New York Times Book Review
“Persuasive. . . . The success of Canadian multiculturalism provides just one of 10 engagingly written case studies in Jonathan Tepperman’s book. . . . The Fix makes an acute point in its attempt to recover a lost sense of optimism.” —The Financial Times
“Tepperman’s conclusion is valuable: eschew ideology; focus on pragmatic solutions to core problems, adjust as you go, but be as tough as is necessary. A viable future for capitalism will cut across the ideological baggage of the twentieth century. As Tepperman argues, the leaders who stuck rigorously to this approach initially faced intense criticism.” —Paul Collier, The Times Literary Supplement
“A readable and fascinating book. . . . Tepperman provides a refreshing and timely challenge to the idea that any of these problems are insurmountable.” —Simon Johnson, Finance & Development
“An enjoyable and informative book. . . . Tepperman does a wonderful job of illustrating that government leaders can achieve great things if they put their minds to it.” —The Washington Monthly
“Just when it looks like the world’s problems couldn’t get much worse, The Fix cuts through the gloom like a ray of sunshine. With storytelling reminiscent of Michael Lewis and a surgeon’s eye for detail, Tepperman takes us on an eye-opening tour of the planet’s local villages, cabinet rooms, and presidential palaces—where a few outstanding leaders have made real strides toward solving colossal economic and political challenges. If you care about understanding the world or improving it, this book is not to be missed. It may very well change the face of leadership.” —Adam Grant, author of Originals
"Readers looking for good news will love this book. Tepperman makes a compelling case, in lively and personal prose, that strong leaders willing to forsake political orthodoxy for good ideas can actually solve the toughest problems the world faces. Governments from Brazil to Canada to Indonesia have successfully tackled problems ranging from inequality to immigration to radical Islam. All is not lost!" —Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of Unfinished Business
“The Fix is a refreshing and readable new way of looking at the world. Tepperman combines old-fashioned reporting, storytelling, and social science to create a roadmap for solving today's great problems, from radicalism to inequality to political paralysis. Anyone disheartened by the current state of affairs should read this original, super-smart, and eye-opening book.” —Charles Duhigg, author of Smarter Faster Better
"We hear every day about all the perils and problems we face. Along comes this wonderful, intelligent, well-written book that tells us about all the solutions. Traveling around the world, Tepperman has found countries that took on big challenges, from inequality to immigration, and found innovative solutions. This book will inform and enlighten you—and cheer you up." —Fareed Zakaria, author of The Post-American World
"The Fix is the book we've been waiting for, one that tackles the seemingly insurmountable problems of our time—from inequality to partisan gridlock to terrorism. Best of all, it offers solutions. By showing how countries around the world have overcome these problems, The Fixbrings hope when we need it most.” —Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive
"Despair no more. In this original and engaging book, Tepperman takes on the declinist conventional wisdom with insight and vigor. There are answers out there, he argues: all we need to do is look around, and learn. A wise and timely book." —Jon Meacham, author of Destiny and Power
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One thing I particularly liked were the anecdotes of the interviews Tepperman did with the foreign leaders covered in the book; like the one where former Brazilian President Lula held Tepperman’s hand for minutes on hand for emphasis, or the one about former Botswana President Masire, who has “an easy laugh that split his face into a thousand creases”.
Having spoken to most leaders featured in the book, Tepperman makes sure that his well structured and well-documented policy tales don’t come off as too theoretical; they are peppered with personal insights on how to get things done.
Another treasure that comes from reading the book is being taken on a journey to far-away and sometimes inaccessible lands. Tepperman went to visit most of countries he writes about, and so we get to know a little bit more about life in Indonesia, South Korea, Singapore, Botswana, Mexico and Brazil along the way, without having to go there ourselves (though the book gave me inspiration to travel!).
Tepperman, finally, never forgets to include data on GDP, economic growth, or international rankings on inequality, crime and corruption. That helps to make international comparisons, measure progress, and bust myths.
At the end of his book, Tepperman comes up with 5 key take-aways, a sort of executive summary for policy makers reading this book. They are: “embrace extremity”, dare to act pragmatically, “please all people some of the time”, “govern with guardrails” and “make revolution through evolution”. They are a fair summary, though I would have loved to also see a post scriptum on some other lessons learned, particularly about effective governing structures. Many of the countries featured in the book are illiberal or democratic only in nature. Tepperman deserves praise for daring to look beyond that, and finding problem-solvers in these countries. But he stops short of reflecting on the merits and failures of democracy and capitalism themselves, except for briefly covering Lee Kuan Yew’s idea of “Asian Values”. It would have been interesting to get his take on whether democracy and capitalism in some cases are part of the problem, and other forms of organizing the state part of the solution.
All in all though, this is a fantastic book, filled with great insights. It is easy to read and, if you’re interested in international economics and policy making, it should be on your shelf if it isn’t already.
Top international reviews
Interesting and certainly makes you hopeful in a world of political apathy.
An extremely good read