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The Miracle: The Epic Story of Asia's Quest for Wealth Hardcover – June 30, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The dynamic Asian tiger economies, with their export-focused, state industrial policies, defy laissez-faire economic orthodoxies; this insightful history sheds light on their controversial achievements. Time magazineÖs business correspondent Schuman surveys behemoths China, Japan and India, middleweight powerhouses like Taiwan and Korea and oft-neglected developing countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, examining their economies through profiles of the government and business leaders. His evenhanded treatment of the Asian model notes both its successes—spectacular growth and technological progress—and failings—crony capitalism and sometimes stifling government regulation—while exploring the complexities and effectiveness of its various national versions. The clearest policy message is the authorÖs not entirely convincing endorsement of globalization and free trade, which, he insists, benefit South Carolina as much as South Korea. To reassure readers that free market verities still hold, Schuman includes stories about scrappy Asian entrepreneurs who built startups into world-class corporate juggernauts, sometimes helped and sometimes hindered by government economic planners. Schuman writes in the same vein of anecdotal pop-economic analysis as Thomas Friedman, with less grandiosity and more nuance; the result is a thoughtful, reader-friendly look at the crucial economic developments of our age. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Well told tale of the most extraordinary economic saga of the past century. Read this and you will quickly grasp that the current slowdown in Asia, at worst, will be very temporary.” (Steve Forbes)

“The Miracle tells an amazing story, and it’s all true. Michael Schuman has done some world-class reporting in putting together this truly timely account. Everyone has a stake in Asia’s economy, and we need to appreciate and understand that, especially at this time of global economic uncertainty.” (Wolf Blitzer)

“Schuman writes in the same vein of anecdotal pop-economic analysis as Thomas Friedman, with less grandiosity and more nuance; the result is a thoughtful, reader-friendly look at the crucial economic developments of our age.” (Publishers Weekly)

“If you are interested in how Asia became an economic tiger, read The Miracle... Schuman is not just a skilled reporter — he is also a gifted journalistic storyteller.” (New York Times)

“A rollicking good yarn.” (Far Eastern Economic Review)

“Should be read by anyone who imagines that there is an easy answer to the debate between laissez-faire and interventionist economics.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“For readers unfamiliar with the story of Asia’s rise, Schuman provides an engaging and readable account of some of Asia’s key policy makers, national leaders and business tycoons. It is economics as biography, character as developmental destiny.” (Washington Post)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; 1 edition (June 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061346683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061346682
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,271,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Right after WWII many Asian countries such as Korea were some of the poorest countries in the world. Devastated by war and years of bad government, these countries were not expected to rise. Unlike many African countries they also were relatively poor in natural resources such as oil and diamonds. Sixty years later many of these Asian countries accomplished incredible growth and in the process elevated many of their citizens from poverty. Schuman examines the many factors that contributed to their rise. What has been the role of culture? Or government? Could unfettered free markets without government intervention have produced similar results? The answer to these questions and many more turns out to be more complicated. Schuman has chapters on China, India, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Each of these countries employed different strategies to grow and succeed. Schuman does an outstanding job analyzing each of the countries. His open-mindedness and lack of ideology give readers a well balanced picture of the region.

Schuman's writing is easy and enjoyable to read. You will learn about the countries' politics, history, economic systems and in general the benefits and pitfalls of globalization. In the process you will also learn about key figures that were instrumental to the rise. This is an outstanding book and a delightful read. I highly recommend it and as you can see from my other reviews I am not a generous Amazon reviewer - I do not give many 5 star reviews!
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Format: Hardcover
Asia has emerged from centuries of stagnation to produce the most sustained economic boom in modern history - all in little more than a generation. Shuman's expertise and openness combine to produce one of the most important books on economic development - "The Miracle." South Korea leads the group, with a 15,046% growth in GNP/capita from 1965 - 2007; Japan's was "merely" 4,133%, China's 2,260%, and India's 764%. East Asia's 1981 poverty rate (surviving on $1.25/day, or less) led the world at nearly 80%; this fell to 18% by 2005. (During the same period sub-Saharan Africa remained at 50%.) Goldman-Sachs predicted in 2003 that by 2050 the Indian and Chinese economies together would double that of the U.S.

Shuman's focus is on both reporting how each economy blossomed, and then synthesizing underlying potentially explanatory factors. Five theories are most prominent:

1)"There is something special about Asians" - eg. Confucianism's stress on societal order and devotion to a strong work ethic (early Hyundai shipbuilders working 17-hour-days; Chinese factory workers working 12-hour-days for 28 or so days/month), savings (up to 50%) and education. (Akin to earlier studies crediting Protestantism's "The Lord helps him who helps himself" for the success of capitalism in the West.") Shuman also could have referenced politically-incorrect yet credible studies concluding that Asians benefit from about a ten IQ-point lead over average Caucasians. Regardless, Shuman challenges this theory, asking "Why not earlier?"

2)A second theory is that Asian leaders did a superior job of planning - despite contradicting seemingly superior U.S.-backed laissez-faire ideology. Examples include selecting particular industries to promote (eg.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Miracle takes a different approach to most literature on asian growth. It looks at the individuals involved and tries to describe their backgrounds, motivations and perspectives and motivates the growth as a function of those uniquie perspectives. This is not an academic work in its intent but it serves a very important role of exploring the "original conditions" of the people who helped start asias miraculous growth and the book draws the reader into the characters perspectives on what was required and the solutions to the problems that were pondered.

The book explores most south east asian nations across the region. It starts with post world war japan and the start of Sony and the trajectory of the company from nothing to being a pioneer, it describes national MITI policy and the help and hinderance it could be. It goes into Korea and the story and vision of Park Chung Hee. The story of Singapore is discussed with the focus on Lee Kuan Yew. Hong Kong and its position is then discussed, discussing the rise or Li Ka-Shing and the eventual transfer of Hutchison. Taiwan is then discussed discussing Shih from Acer as well as some taiwanese historical background. China is explored and the journey of Deng Xiaoping is the center, the journey of liberalization within the party is focused on and the pragmatism of its leaders as well as the dogmatism of some of the older order. Indonesia is then moved onto with Suharto as the center, it is fairly flattering with focus on his use of the Berkeley team rather than the emergence of cronyism. The book then jumps back to Japan and Honda with his energy and vision and is used an example of how entrepreneurial Japan could be.
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