The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: David Landes -1999

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations is a bestselling book written by a professor of economics David S. Landes. The book is Landes’ examination of one of the most controversial and intensely argued issues of the modern times: why some nations prosper while others remain so poor.

“Where there are kings, there must be the greatest cowards. For men’s souls are enslaved and refuse to run risks readily and recklessly to increase the power of somebody else. But independent people, taking risks on their own behalf and not on behalf of others, are willing and eager to go into danger, for they themselves enjoy the prize of victory.”

According to Landes, the answer to the questions is a multifaceted interaction between historical conditions and cultural patterns and behaviors. Landes uproots deep historical details and novel information to present his argument. The book includes an economic history of the world while centering part of his answer to the Industrial Revolution and the environment this created for Europe.

With culture playing a major role in the success of civilization, Landes reasons that Western civilizations have dominated because of their culture. It is this controversial belief that certain nations are intrinsically more likely to succeed, which has led to Landes often being charged with Eurocentrism.

Nonetheless, Landes shows incredible insight as well as numerous facts and figures, often in a humorous tone making his argument a fascinating read. Filled with anecdotes and real-life examples, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations is highly recommended to all interested in the discrepancy between the rich and poor nations of the world. It's ambitious and audacious theme is guaranteed to impress.

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