The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor (Google eBook)

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W. W. Norton & Company, May 17, 1999 - Business & Economics - 672 pages
5 Reviews

"Readers cannot but be provoked and stimulated by this splendidly iconoclastic and refreshing book."—Andrew Porter, New York Times Book Review

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations is David S. Landes's acclaimed, best-selling exploration of one of the most contentious and hotly debated questions of our time: Why do some nations achieve economic success while others remain mired in poverty? The answer, as Landes definitively illustrates, is a complex interplay of cultural mores and historical circumstance. Rich with anecdotal evidence, piercing analysis, and a truly astonishing range of erudition, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations is a "picture of enormous sweep and brilliant insight" (Kenneth Arrow) as well as one of the most audaciously ambitious works of history in decades.

For the paperback edition, Landes has written a new epilogue, in which he takes account of Asian financial crisises and the international tension between overconfidence and reality.
  

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Simply a great and refreshing book. It teaches especially the European movement beginning in the 12th century, starting with 4 game changing inventions in the Medieval period. These inventions laid the basics of an European empire, that would soon sail the world with the biggest vessels. These different European countries would change power frequently starting with Spain and Portugal, ending with Great Britain. They all had their own cultural, especially shaped by religion; Catholic vs Calvinists. These cultures were of the utmost importance of national advancement or decline, as the book will describe in detail.
The book was a refreshing eye opener, in teaching me the reasons behind certain important historical events; why did Spain and Portugal lose their initial power to the Dutch and latter Great Britain?, Why did some East Asian countries flourish, while others did not? Why did Great Britain fell behind while other countries (US and Japan) grew fast?.
Although, it teaches a lot, it was sometimes a struggle reading this book. It frequently went in hard to follow details, where it could have been better avoided and it talked to much about certain subject, especially the advancement of Great Britain. Although, some of you might find this repeating and great detail character of the book useful, I would have liked it more without it.
Nevertheless, a book extremely worth reading for the numerous insights it contains.
 

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A great book that takes a broad look at the successful and unsuccessful countries/regions of the world over the last 700 years or so. While this was not a difficult read, it was not a really engaging read either, it is simply loaded with just too much information to be a real page-turner. However, one learns a lot. The book suffered a little bit I think from very poor editing, there were many mistakes that a simple spell check would have caught, sometimes I had to re-read a simple sentence (you will expand your SAT or GRE vocab in this book for sure) & figure out the missing word. Landes is not afraid to unapologetically say that the West (Europe) has done the best and it is largely because of culture. This book was a refreshing bit of realism & he really takes on those who would nay-say the West's technological & prosperity leadership, or who would try to say it is all just an accident. He does highlight those few non-Western countries that have done well recently, and we can see those even more so (like Korea) now, 12 years after this was published. He also shows how some of the losers in Europe went down the wrong path, so there is again, realistic balance. 

Contents

INTRODUCTION
xvii
Natures Inequalities
3
Answers to Geography Europe and China
17
European Exceptionalism A Different Path
29
The Invention of Invention
45
The Great Opening
60
Eastward Ho
79
From Discoveries to Empire
99
The Wealth of Knowledge
276
Frontiers
292
The South American Way
310
Celestial Empire Stasis and Retreat
335
Japan And the Last Shall Be First
350
The Meiji Restoration
371
History Gone Wrong?
392
Empire and After
422

Bittersweet Isles
113
Empire in the East
125
For Love of Gain
137
Golconda
150
Winners and Losers The Balance Sheet of Empire
168
The Nature of Industrial Revolution
186
Why Europe? Why Then?
200
Britain and the Others
213
Pursuit of Albion
231
You Need Money to Make Money
256
Loss of Leadership
442
Winners and
465
Losers
491
How Did We Get Here? Where Are We Going?
512
EPILOGUE 1999
525
NOTES
533
BIBLIOGRAPHY
575
INDEX
645
Copyright

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About the author (1999)

David S. Landes (1924—2013) was professor emeritus at Harvard University and the author of Bankers and Pashas, The Unbound Prometheus, and Revolution in Time.

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