Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor Paperback – May 17, 1999
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Professor David S. Landes takes a historic approach to the analysis of the distribution of wealth in this landmark study of world economics. Landes argues that the key to today's disparity between the rich and poor nations of the world stems directly from the industrial revolution, in which some countries made the leap to industrialization and became fabulously rich, while other countries failed to adapt and remained poor. Why some countries were able to industrialize and others weren't has been the subject of much heated debate over the decades; climate, natural resources, and geography have all been put forward as explanations--and are all brushed aside by Landes in favor of his own controversial theory: that the ability to effect an industrial revolution is dependent on certain cultural traits, without which industrialization is impossible to sustain. Landes contrasts the characteristics of successfully industrialized nations--work, thrift, honesty, patience, and tenacity--with those of nonindustrial countries, arguing that until these values are internalized by all nations, the gulf between the rich and poor will continue to grow. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Landes (Revolution in Time), Harvard professor emeritus of history, undertakes an economic and cultural history of the world during the past five centuries. His well-written, sometimes witty analysis is the kind of work one wants to pause over and reflect upon at each chapter before moving ahead. Landes's principal argument is that the richest nations continue to prosper while poorer nations lag behind because of their relative ability or inability to exploit science, technology and economic opportunity. In every case?from ancient China to modern Japan?he maintains this is largely the result of national attitudes about a myriad of cultural factors. Landes traces the story of England's industrial revolution and America's system of mass production as indicators of the West's superiority over the rest of the world. Some of his historical illustrations are thought-provoking: for example, the importance of air conditioning to the development of the New South in the U.S. and the impact of a lifetime of eating with chopsticks on the manual dexterity of Asia's microprocessing workers. Most of all, Landes stresses the importance of cultural values, such as a predisposition for hard work, open-mindedness and a commitment to democracy, in determining a nation's course toward wealth and power.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Landes strongly advocates the point of view that cultural values (work ethic, thriftiness, attitudes toward change, technology, women) are primary determinants of economic success or failure. Although many, including myself, find this thesis lacking and controversial, there is still an abundance of interesting and useful information in this book.
On the plus side, Landes offers a wealth of fascinating anecdotes, introductory information on the history of technology that was new to me, a clear and definite argument, and above all gives the reader some sense of the importance of culture in the economic realm. Although I personally feel that Landes overstates the importance of culture, the points he makes do have some validity and are generally under appreciated. Moreover, the author is remarkably fair minded for someone advocating a controversial thesis.
Don't be fooled by the reviewers that make fun of the author for suggesting that eating with chopsticks has given Asians manual dexterity that is advantageous to their high-tech manufacturing sector. In fairness to the author, this statement is a single sentence in a 500 page book and he immediately admits that most of his colleagues smirk when they hear it.
On the minus side, the author verges on severe cultural stereotypes a few too many times. The Asians are all thrifty and hard working while the Latins have been brain washed by the Catholic church. Landes more or less ignores several non-cultural challenges that poor countries face: unfair pressure from wealthy countries to open their markets, scarcity of capital & technology, a brain drain that leaves the best and brightest in the developed world. Finally, a remarkable failure is that Landes doesn't examine the idea that cultural values may be largely determined by the material & economic conditions of a country.
The book's writing style is casual and conversational, but sometimes unclear and confusing. Many times I was not sure exactly what the author meant and wished he had written a complete sentence instead of a short and vague phrase.
The bottom line is that the book is a worthy read. While not fully convincing, I found myself having a new appreciation for the importance of cultural values in the economic realm.
While his tone is way too smug, and his general thesis fails to reach 'ultimate causes' as Jared Diamond's excellent book on a similar topic did so well, few readers will come away from this book without having learned something.
It takes a long time to get through, probably because you have to keep asking yourself--"where is all this leading to?"
To explain why the economic development in the world (from about 1500 to the present) has happened at different paces and with different degrees of success is not an easy task to undertake. To do so successfully is even harder.
Landes strongly advocates the point of view that cultural values, such as technology, thriftiness, work ethic, and women, are the primary factors of economic success or failure. I truly enjoyed reading the authors observations on the various cultures and their economic successes and failures (a little minus here is Landes tendency to lean on the cultural stereotype just a few too many times). I now have a better understanding for the importance of cultural values in the economic area. Why the UK fell behind the rest of Europe, or why China by deliberately choosing to isolate the country, lost their economical/technological jump-start on Europe. I also have a greater awareness of the effects of religion; that there can be little doubt that the religious-based repression/bias towards women will continue to slow the economic development and success of the societies in which this still occur.
There is an abundance of interesting and useful information in this book, and I did learn a lot of new facts from this book. Nevertheless, I am not sure that I am left with a better understanding of the key factors that drive economic success. I can't help feeling that I worked my way through the five hundred pages waiting for the "little extra" - that never came. So even if Landis handles the facts and analysis very well, I still miss is the one, grand theory that explains it all.
Bottom line, "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why some are so rich and some are so poor" is a superb historical overview, but it doesn't quite deliver what it promises - the one theory that wraps up everything, and offers some insights to the question that we all ask ourselves: "Why some are so rich and some are so poor".