Thursday, May 6, 2021

Review of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor by David S. Landes

This book review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History

Short Description

Elaborate Description

Sustainable prosperity depends on the well-being of others.  Increasing the wealth of poor countries is important because if their wealth is not increased, they have an incentive to take what they cannot make or to export people.  Part of the solution lies in geography.  The resource endowments, and the people’s ability to be active within the climate.  Geography is not destiny, as people can utilize their skills and knowledge to alter their conditions.  That being another part of the solution, that incentivizing knowledge and skill acquisition leads to prosperity.  Intolerance and persecuting reduces prosperity because persecuted groups usually leave, depriving a nation of knowledge and skills

The author presents many histories of people and regions but not enough details on them throughout.  Missing details that can change the way a reader sees particular people and events.  Selecting the reasons that countries became wealthy or decisions undertaken which improvised them.  A confirmation bias of references are made leading to missing many examples in which the same decisions have been made but lead to different outcomes.  Although histories are presented about once wealthy nations that have become improvised, the reference point to success in the late 20th century.  The reference point causes the book to be read in a deterministic manner.  The author writes about complexity and understands that regions are not determined to either be poor or wealthy based on a set of conditions, but all this is written as if it was deterministic. 

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Why does prosperity depend on increasing the well-being of others?
•What influence does geography have on the people?
•How to overcome geographical limitations?
•What use are knowledge and skills?
•What happens when a nation persecuted a group?
•What impact does culture have?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780393069815
Pages to read:   575
Publication:     1999
1st Edition:      1998
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          2
Overall           2