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The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest is Good for the West Hardcover – January 7, 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[A] lively little book.... [Kenny’s] convincing conclusion argues that Western countries should take steps now to lock in global rules and institutions that will protect their interests and values in a future in which they will be less powerful.”
Foreign Affairs

“Among the many tomes that have been written on (relative) American decline, Charles Kenny’s new book, The Upside of Down, is the rare one that embraces it.... His book proves not only a ‘refreshing antidote to prophecies of American decline,’ to quote the dust jacket, but also an idea-rich guide for preventing such prophecies from becoming self-fulfilling.... Kenny makes a compelling case that ‘the greatest threat to a brighter future is to dwell on the risk of failure.’”
Boston Review

“Upbeat without being Panglossian, Kenny’s starting point is that the relative decline is inevitable. The rise of the rest is not only well under way. It is also desirable.... Kenny’s account of US misdirectedness is salient. Yet he never strays too far from his chief argument—the west has all the resources it needs to make life better for all of its people. That, after all, is what the game should be about.”
Financial Times

“[Kenny] argues that just because one nation is winning does not mean another must lose; instead, he shows convincingly how the benefits of success spread far beyond borders.... [H]is statistic-laden polemic is ultimately a glorious hymn to the transformative powers of globalisation, showing the beneficial impact for everyone as countries become richer, healthier and smarter.... Once again, Kenny offers a powerful antidote to the poisonous pessimism that prevails in too many places.”
The Observer (UK)

“An optimistic view of the future economy—refreshing…”
Kirkus Reviews

“Charles Kenny is the real deal: an optimist with an economist’s data to back him up. So when he looks at the glass and sees it’s half full—you can rest assured it’s not because he needs new contacts. In The Upside of Down, he carefully dismantles our preconceived notions about American decline and the rise of the rest—and makes a convincing case by the end for why we shouldn't be too worried about either.”
—Susan Glasser, editor, POLITICO Magazine

“America’s declining influence in the world has been the subject of many books, articles and spirited debates. Charles Kenny explains why the declinists are wrong and surprises us with insights that are as original as they are persuasive. Read this book if you want to be reassured about America's future.”
—Moisés Naím, Carnegie Endowment and author of The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What it Used to Be

“Only Charles Kenny could write a cheerful book about decline. But by showing that relative decline actually means absolute gain when measuring the progress of the United States against rising powers such as Brazil, India, China, and parts of Africa, Kenny opens the door to a far more positive vision of the future, one that is backed by data rather than dreams and that inspires both hope and energy. The Upside of Down turned my world right side up!”
—Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of the New America Foundation and Bert G. Kerstetter ‘66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University

“This book is the essential guide to understanding, and being rationally optimistic about, the weakening West, rising Rest, globalizing all story that is now playing out. Charles Kenny, admirably conversant with the facts and research, lays this story out with clarity, lightness, and insight.”
—Arvind Subramanian, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics and author of Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China’s Economic Dominance

About the Author

Charles Kenny, previously a senior economist at the World Bank, is now a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and a columnist for Bloomberg Businessweek and Foreign Policy magazines. He lives in Washington, DC.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (January 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465064736
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465064731
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,291,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest is Good for the West (2014) by Charles Kenny is an optimistic look at how the changing centre of global economic activity is good for the West and the US in particular. Kenny also states what should be done so that the transition to a world where the West is no longer the richest yields an even better world.

Kenny first points out that when you are born is more important than where in terms of wealth. Being born now means that you're wealthier and live longer than most people have in history regardless of where you're born. It's the point that Matt Ridley, Bjorn Lomborg and others have made to counter the constant beating of the doom drum.

The book then describes how being wealthier than ever regardless of which country is the wealthiest is more important than being the world's largest economy. Size doesn't always help either. Smaller countries can have better health systems, better education and other strengths.

Other countries being wealthier will also help the US. Kenny points out that the US trades more per capita with wealthy countries than with poorer ones. The environment is also addressed and there Kenny thinks that climate change is a serious problem but he is honest enough to point out that even with climate change the world will be considerably wealthier in a hundred years.

The advantages of immigration in keeping populations younger is examined, the virtues of trade and the opportunities presented by more international cooperation between bigger newly wealthy countries is given great coverage. Kenny also describes how he believes the US should use the institutions created by the US to better the world and more for world enrichment rather than as part of a zero sum game.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very informative!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
How can the loss of American global supremacy be a good thing for America? It may sound counter-intuitive but Charles Kenny does an excellent job of showing how getting past the 'us vs. them' mindset will benefit everyone - if done correctly.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While I won't go so far as to say that this is a "must read" book, I will be highly recommending it to individuals who need a little push away from isolationism, or have a hard time understanding the economics behind globalization. Charles Kenny starts off the book by very clearly telling us that a lot of what he says is going to be open to debate, and he's very frank in that most predicitions about future economic climates turn out to be hilariously off-point; but he does a fantastic job at coming to well-reasoned (if debatable) conclusions while citing his sources.

This is primarily an economics book. As such, it talks about the GDP of countries and of the global economy, and how economic factors can impact social and governance issues. So while the book's main topic is economics, its purpose is to explain how a changing economic landscape (China, et al, eclipsing the United States) is not something that the United States should fear. In order to best do that, the author takes liberties in outlining the specific issues of our current generation.

For example, global warming is something that is of little scientific debate, but is hotly debated in the public arena of American politics. So, while Kenny does not debate the merits of global warming arguments (of either side), he states the information as fact while both reducing the "end is nigh" mentality of climate changers and expressing how emission reduction would not hurt our GDP enough to affect the quality of life of climate change deniers.

Similarly, he looks at issues like (il)legal immigration and gender rights with the same sort of analytical process.
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