Why Nations Fail
by Daron AcemogluPublished 2012 546 pages
I'm going to do what this book declines to do and keep this short.
The central thesis here—that nations succeed because they promote pluralistic, inclusive economic institutions, and that nations fail because they promote extractive economic institutions—makes sense. I'm not sure that I agree that this is the whole story of why nations succeed and fail, and I think it's a bit of a simplistic explanation, but it's an insight and it's noted.
I appreciate the need for example, but the vast majority of this book are elaborate vignettes from history that demonstrate why the thesis is accurate. These vignettes are helpful and representative, but 546 small-type pages of them make for an uncompelling and at times tedious read.
Is compelling what we want from pop-socio-economics? Maybe not. But compare e.g. Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which was compelling, enlightening, and helpfully prescriptive. I'm not sure I can say the same about Why Nations Fail.