Synopses & Reviews
David S. Landes tells the long, fascinating story of wealth and power throughout the world: the creation of wealth, the paths of winners and losers, the rise and fall of nations. He studies history as a process, attempting to understand how the world's cultures lead to or retard economic and military success and material achievement. Countries of the West, Landes asserts, prospered early through the interplay of a vital, open society focused on work and knowledge, which led to increased productivity, the creation of new technologies, and the pursuit of change. Europe's key advantage lay in invention and know-how, as applied in war, transportation, generation of power, and skill in metalwork. Even such now banal inventions as eyeglasses and the clock were, in their day, powerful levers that tipped the balance of world economic power. Today's new economic winners are following much the same roads to power, while the laggards have somehow failed to duplicate this crucial formula for success. The key to relieving much of the world's poverty lies in understanding the lessons history has to teach us lessons uniquely imparted in this towering work of history.
"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.
About the Author
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.