Why Nations Fail – A Book Review

Why Nations Fall by James A. Robinson and Darn Guacamole a book review INTRODUCTION Why Nations Fall Is a non-fiction book by James A. Robinson and Darn Guacamole which Is based on the views and Insights from the economic history of each country to be able to answer why nations grow differently, why others succeed while others fall. The stones are linked with a common narrative theme, the adolescently between Inclusive and extractive institutions. The book claims that nations with Inclusive institutions are more successful than those with extractive institutions in the long
Other people who have not bumped into this kind of books will most likely foreshadow this work as not so entertaining since most of it, well actually every chapter of this book deals with nothing but politics and economics, but as you go through every chapter of the book, you will find it to be a total opposite to what you expected. It is interesting in a way that you get the chance to know the economic status of each country and its reason why it grows differently: others succeed and others fail. As a group, we say yes. We did enjoy the book though we started reading it very late already.
Through this, we were able to understand more why economies grow in different ways and what factors causes it to prosper or fail. BOOK REVIEW The thesis made by James A. Robinson and Darn Guacamole is about the nation’s failure to prosperity. The book answers the big question that has been pondered by many economists for a long time now – Why some societies prosper and others don’t? For Darn Guacamole and James A. Robinson, it is the institutions that determine the fate of nations. Both authors claim that a country succeeds when political and economic institutions are “inclusive”.

Inclusive institutions are institutions in which many people are involved in the governing process hence exploitation is either depreciated or absent. According to them, nations fail when institutions are “extractive”. Extractive institutions are those protecting the political and economic power of only small elites that take income from other people. Both authors are qualified to write about the subject because they are both widely respected scholars. Darn Guacamole is a professor of Economics and has been awarded for his great contribution to economic knowledge while James A.
Robinson is political scientist and an economist who is conducting a research in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, etc. The authors spent fifteen years researching the reasons why nations and empires rise or fall. They put forth a thesis that explains Africa and Latin America failed to build sustaining governments and economic systems that distribute wealth and power throughout their populace; and why Russia and North Korea have failed to deliver an economy and government that provides opportunity for their populations to thrive.
Even before reading the book, it is already obvious of what the book is all about. From he title itself, Why Nations Fail, readers would expect that the content is about nation’s economic system. The authors draw the complex political and economic systems and their connection to the failure of nations. The book is composed of many examples from human history to support the claim and to show how inclusive institutions enhance the nation’s economy better than extractive institutions. It is well written, a powerful narration that explains history’s failed civilizations.
It will also give the reader insights about today’s global economy. But as you go deeper, some of the writings are difficult to understand. Some key points are not easy to comprehend since there are some terms in Economics that ordinary people are not familiar with, like inclusive and extractive society. Those terms were written and were given historical examples, but, the definition was not clearly explained in the book. The authors were able to come up with conclusions and hypothesis. But, an evidence of the theories they presented are not stated.
The authors were not able to present statistics-based evidence to support their theories and claims. The books limitations are that the authors did not include the roles of other factors such as geographic actors, scientific factors etc. Instead, they focused solely on institutions as an explanation. What I dislike about the author’s writing style is that in every chapter, thoughts and conclusions are repeated, thus, making the whole write up, unrecognized and redundant. They failed to present proper examples to some terms which are unfamiliar to the readers.
Despite of the books downsides, the authors were still able to direct our concentration and attention to poverty, economic system, politics, etc. Overall, the book is brilliant and engaging. The authors wrote the hypothesis clearly and succeeded in making a great sense of history and imparting their views on the factors that affect the rise and fall of nations. CHAPTER 1 : so Close and yet so Different James A. Robinson and Darn Guacamole began the first chapter of the book with the comparison of Nonages, Arizona and Nonages, Senora.
These two basically come from the same geographical location, the same city but there is quite a big difference between the economies of the two. The authors in this book try to question why Arizona and Senora could be in the same location yet they are so different from each other? one city is prosperous while the other one is not. The authors made an argument in this chapter that Arizona is prosperous because of their policies? Arizona has greatly improved their means of livelihood and they have developed schools, infrastructure, transportation and education.
In other words, what caused Arizona and Senoras economy to be different with each other are the policies imposed in their area? Arizona, in the border of the United States, has the rule of law while Senora has an absence of even the basic services in Mexico. The United States utilizes inclusive policies while Mexico has been using extracting policies. CHAPTER 2: Tones that Don’t work In this chapter, Robinson and Guacamole tries to discuss the common theories as to why nations fail that still exists today.
Here, they dismiss the said theories and claim that the real reason behind the fail of nations is the type of institutions present in the society? whether instructive or extractive. Other people claim that the reason why nation fail is because of its geographical location. Other countries have more resources than others. But, based on the authors, this does not explain the Nonages- Senora economic conflict since these two countries come from the same area. The second theory which was pointed out to be the cause why economy of different countries grows differently is because of the citizens who work hard for their country.
But still, it was argued by the authors that this does not explain the situation between Nonages since its residents have basically the same historical background and culture. The last theory is the one that seems is the most widely accepted today. This theory clearly states that our leaders are too ignorant to choose what policies to impose and implement. Quoted on George Rowel’s line on him being skeptical at Joseph Stalin, “The power in the wrong hands can lead to a cause gone wrong. ” CHAPTER 3: The Making of Prosperity and Poverty success or failure of nations.
They used the Korean Peninsula as an example. It was said that after the World War II, the Korean Peninsula has been divided into two: the northern and the southern Korea. South Korea, which was backed by United States, eventually adopted inclusive policies that include property rights of the people while the North Korea, backed by Russia, implemented the extractive policies wherein citizens have no rights while only the elites own the lands. The Korean Peninsula is an example where two identical countries can quickly become so different because one allowed the empowerment of its people.
CHAPTER 4: Small Differences and Critical Junctures This chapter talks about the consequences that a nation may face Just with the small critical Junctures and differences. It either can lead a nation to prosper or to fail. The example of the authors for the small differences that affected the institutional development is the Eastern and Western Europe. In the West, workers were free of feudal dues, fines, etc. In the East, they were also connected in such an economy, but he demand for the agricultural goods came from the West. It was not an inclusive market.
The authors have cited many historical vignettes that support their claim on the critical Junctures that can affect the type of institution of an economy? inclusive and extractive institutions. The best example for us is England’s adoption of inclusive institutions during the time of the bubonic plague. This critical Juncture led to the industrial revolution causing some nations to prosper and some to fail. CHAPTER 5: I’ve Seen the Future and It Works In this chapter, the authors imply that extractive institutions merely rely on growth cause they need something to extract.
They both claim that this growth of the extractive institutions is unjustifiable or unsustainable. One of the examples cited by the authors to illustrate this unsuitability is the Soviet Union. For decades, the Soviet Union has been experiencing great economic growth till the time came when it halted. This led to the country fall in 1991. According to the authors, the extractive institutions had many flaws? only few selected gain benefits while the greater percent of the population suffers from poverty. In this chapter, the book describes how Venice was very inclusive with its economic and political policies.
Venice at one point before was a very prosperous nation. The inclusive policies helped make Venice the most prosperous nation at his time. But, Venire’s innovations not only gave positive effects but also negative. These innovations weakened the political and economic institutions that were established. To secure their political and economic interest, Venice made extractive policies. These policies turned Venice backward while other nations moved forward. CHAPTER 7: The -running point It was the year 1688 that served as a difficult time in history for the people.
The political institutions gradually abandoned power to its people which eventually led to the Industrial Revolution, an important event in history wherein there were new changes in the quality of life. There were major improvements in transportation, metallurgy and steam power, mechanization of textile production and the development of factories to produce these manufactured textiles. There was a reorganization of economic institutions that sided with the innovators and entrepreneurs. CHAPTER 8: Not on our Turf The Industrial Revolution that took place was not warmly welcomed by many nations.
Many nations were rejecting it while England was unsure of its acceptance of the Industrial Revolution. Two nations, Russia and China was dependent on the belief that it is technology that would weaken the elites. China and Russia were doing the total opposite as they were contracting inwards while the other nations were expanding their territory already. The authors claimed that if only China and Russia could’ve embraced inclusive institutions and accepted technology, America would have been a different place. CHAPTER 9: Reversing Development Colonialism has caused much effect to different nations.
The authors made the spice wars of the Mollusks as an example to this. The authors stated that “though these nations seem remote to us today, the Mollusks was still then a central to the world trade. ” But Mollusks seem remote today since its inhabitants stop producing spices as a response to the colonials. In this chapter, the authors perceived a British penal colony, a family without rights and a civil case that leads us to the country that we know today as Australia. This is the time that British convicts were sentenced to death.
These convicts were not given the same rights given to other citizens of Britain. This was unheard of at the time and slowly sent Australia and Britain down to different paths of history. CHAPTER 11 & 12: The Virtuous Circle/ These vacuous Circle In this chapter, the book talks about the violent cycles in history. The authors talk in great deal on how vehement the circles are based upon the rule of law. These circles form in a society where no group can control the other and has a lot to lose if they weaken the rule of law. These circles in turn lead to extractive institutions.
The authors have shown a lot of examples of violent cycles. One example is demonstrated in the weakening of the audacity systems in Argentina, Venezuela and Cambodia. These countries fall into endless loops of bad decisions by its people more times than not they are changed. CHAPTER 13: Why Nations Fail Nations fail today because of conspiracy and bad policy. The authors explain in their interview that the United States has to be diligent to stop conspiracy between big businesses and politics. Large companies have money and power that can weaken political processes.
Examples to this are the hindrances to competition. Some countries that have inclusive institutions use political power to change overspent to more extractive institutions. The authors perceived how Argentina and Venezuela weaken their courts and political institutions by giving the president’s the freedom to do what they please. CHAPTER 14: Breaking the Mold The authors perceived the challenges that an exclusive nation may/is facing today. The authors say that there are two realistic paths that a nation can take toward more inclusive institutions.
One path is an approach where the government gradually changes policy to be more inclusive because of societal pressures. The other is the path of resistance that usually leads to revolt or civil war. The authors believe that it’s hard to eliminate poverty while increasing prosperity. They say that the countries that are poor have a high tendency to be extractive institutions and until those institutions change nothing can really be done to fix the problem. People believe that nation building could be a solution but as the authors point out it doesn’t fix the underlying issues.
CONCLUSION: Why Nations Fail is a very interesting book. From the title itself, it tackles about how a country develops and grows, or the other way around. It doesn’t Just focus on the current problems and issues of the society but also goes back to the past and the robbers which are left unsolved for how many decades or even centuries. Economists and politicians would totally be interested to read this book because this is mostly made up of politics and economic-related topics or global economics and politics.
In their thesis, they have mentioned about different kinds of institutions that failed the country economic system, inclusive and extractive societies. “Why Nations Fail” is a very important topic since we can see that there are several countries in the world who are experiencing poverty or breakdown of economic system, with role of government or the people themselves as the reasons. The book can be boring to some readers but it was interesting enough to make us finish the book.
It can be boring to some because the book is political and economical. It tackles issues of the society that caused the rise or fall of nations. Some readers are not fond of reading this kind of book. But, for those people interested in the economy of nations, then this is a really good read. The authors’ thesis was great because it has good citations and examples; however, same thoughts are repeated in each chapter and the book don’t have a concrete back up The scholarly work, Why Nations Fail, is a slow-read book.
The work contains deep details that must be understood in every chapter for you to be able to connect the whole flow of the thesis. The bright side of the book is the illustrations shown and the tables provided. Data are properly organized or listed in the table and, maps and other figures are well-drawn. Also, there are historical examples given that would add the understandings of the readers. The book is very useful and a substantive book which gives well-explained points on why nations succeed or fail. This book is recommended to anyone who wants to understand how the world works.
However, his book is not recommended for those readers who are used to fast-paced narration and cannot tolerate a slow read, this must not be recommended because of the organization of the thesis’ points, some of the topics and examples are repeated making it a slow read book. But for those who are in to politics and economics, this book is highly recommended because it contains many interesting historical examples and provocative ideas. The main strength of this book is the summary: it is packed, from beginning to end, with historical scenes that are both knowledgeable and fascinating. The book never fails us to think.

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