Book Reviews

Book Review, Augusta Dwyer: The Anatomy of Giving (on the aid industry and Haiti)

Duncan Green - May 26, 2016

If you want a readable and short (167 pages) introduction to the many contradictions and debates that beset the aid business, I recommend The Anatomy of Giving (apologies for Amazon link – couldn’t find another). Dwyer’s subject is Haiti – ‘At just a two-hour flight from Miami, Haiti is the Western Hemisphere’s own little piece of Sub-Saharan Africa.’ She’s been visiting on and off since 1985 …

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The Politics of Inclusive Development: Two Books; One Title

Duncan Green - May 17, 2016

Guest review from Alice Evans, Human Geography lecturer, Cambridge The age of ‘best practice’ is over. The time of politics has come. Rather than identify and rollout effective policies, we need to understand the political struggles and coalitions by which socio-economic and political resources come to be redistributed more equitably – across classes, genders, ethnicities and spaces. The Politics of Inclusive Development: Policy, State Capacity, …

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Should aid fight corruption? New book questions logic behind this week’s anti-corruption summit

Duncan Green - May 10, 2016

Over at the Center for Global Development, Charles Kenny wants comments on the draft of his book on Aid and Corruption (deadline end of May). Let’s hope this becomes standard practice – it worked brilliantly for me on How Change Happens – more varied voices can chip in good new ideas, spot mistakes or contradictions, and it all helps get a buzz going ahead of publication. …

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Book Review: The Economics of Poverty by Martin Ravallion

Duncan Green - May 5, 2016

Oxfam inequality number cruncher Deborah Hardoon reviews The Economics of Poverty by Martin Ravallion.  It’s hard to think of a better placed individual than Martin Ravallion to have written this book. Not only has he spent over 30 years working on poverty, including 24 years at the World Bank, but in 1990 it was Martin Ravallion who, during dinner with his wife had an ‘epiphany …

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Book Review: Branko Milanovic’s brilliant take on Global Inequality

Duncan Green - April 15, 2016

Some of my favourite development economists are nomads, people with feet in different regions, which seems to make them better able to identify interesting patterns and similarities/differences between countries. Ha-Joon Chang (Korea/UK), Dani Rodrik (Turkey/US) and now Branko Milanovic (Serbia/US), whose latest book Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization is a brilliant and thought-provoking essay stuffed with enough graphs to satisfy …

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Book Review: Gender at Work: Theory and Practice for 21st Century Organizations

Duncan Green - April 6, 2016

Gender at Work: Theory and Practice for 21st Century Organizations by Rao, Sandler, Kelleher and Miller, Routledge, 2016 This was another book that came to my rescue as I was struggling towards the finishing line on How Change Happens. In particular, it pulled together thinking about different kinds of power and change in a practical format for activists. The book draws on 15 years of …

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Which of these three books on complexity and development is right for you? Review/user’s guide

Duncan Green - March 16, 2016

Dave Algoso (@dalgoso ) with a handy guide to what to read for those wondering what all this complexity stuff is about In the last few years, complexity thinking has found its way into general development discourse. Anyone reading this blog or others has likely encountered some of the terminology, even if the technical pieces remain elusive to you. Ready to go deeper than the blogs? …

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Book Review: What can Activists learn from the AIDS Drugs Movement?

Duncan Green - March 10, 2016

Still catching up with reviews from my holiday reading – Alex de Waal’s new book (already reviewed) and AIDS Drugs for All, which came highly recommended. (I also read and enjoyed Marlon James and Elena Ferrante – I’m not completely sad/obsessive, honest.) AIDS Drugs for All is a forensic account of ‘a heroic effort on the part of social activists, policy entrepreneurs and sympathetic corporate …

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Book Review: Alex de Waal, the Real Politics of the Horn of Africa

Duncan Green - March 1, 2016

There’s a balance to be struck in writing any non-fiction book. Narrative v information. How often do you return to the overarching storyline, the message of the book, the thing you want the reader to take away? How much information – facts, names, dates, events – do you include? Too much storyline, and the book feels flimsy. Too much information and the reader gets lost …

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Book Review: The Power of Positive Deviance

Duncan Green - February 8, 2016

Another contribution to this week’s conference on ‘Power, Politics and Positive Deviance’, which I’m gutted to be missing. I finally got round to reading The Power of Positive Deviance, in which management guru Richard Pascale teams up with the two key practitioners – the Sternins (Jerry and Monique) – to analyse over 20 years of experience in developing the Positive Deviance (PD) approach, building on their …

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