Book Reviews

Book Review: Why We Lie About Aid by Pablo Yanguas

Duncan Green - May 2, 2018

Guest post by Tom Kirk, of the LSE’s Centre for Public Authority in International Development Every so often you read something that brilliantly articulates an idea or issue you have been struggling with for a while, but could not properly capture. Why We Lie About Aid is one of those books. Full of pithy quotes, punchy anecdotes and insightful case studies, it draws upon an …

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Book Review: Can Intervention Work? Rory Stewart and Gerald Knaus

Duncan Green - April 25, 2018

We’ve had some great speakers at the LSE this year, but Rory Stewart was top of the pops, according to the students’ evaluations. He rocked up at LSE, despite having just been reshuffled to Minister for Prisons, spoke without notes, and blew everyone away. Alas, he insisted on it being off the record, so I cheated – I went back to the 2011 book that …

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Book Review: Aids Drugs for All: Social Movements and Market Transformations, by Ethan B Kapstein and Joshua W Busby

Duncan Green - February 23, 2018

Thanks to Chris Roche for sending me back to re-read this wonderful case study of how activists can change markets (here’s a free pdf of the first chapter). Kapstein and Busby painstakingly researched the rise, tactics and successes/failures of the global advocacy campaign around access to medicines for HIV/AIDS. Their (hugely ambitious) aim is not just to understand a movement that has saved thousands of …

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Book Review: ‘I’ve got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle’ Charles M Payne

Duncan Green - January 26, 2018

I’ve given my kids a lot of improving books over the years, and now they’re exacting revenge. Parental devotion means I read anything they give me, which at least gets me out of the aid and development ghetto. My Christmas present this year from son Calum was Charles Payne’s wonderful book on the US civil rights movement, which also kept me sane during a grim, …

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Coalitions and Compliance: The Political Economy of Pharmaceutical Patents in Latin America. Book Review.

Duncan Green - January 18, 2018

Back in the early noughties, I was an NGO trade wonk, prowling the corridors of the WTO and having a fun time at a series of highly theatrical biannual ‘ministerials’ (Seattle 1999 (collapse), Doha 2001 (trade talks launched), Cancún 2003 (another collapse)). Over the course of those campaigns, we grew increasingly vociferous about the need for developing countries to retain ‘policy space’ – the ability …

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The Perils of Male Bias: Alice Evans replies to yesterday’s ‘Sausagefest’

Duncan Green - January 11, 2018

Yesterday’s post on Stefan Dercon‘s lecture got a lot of hits, but also some slaps for its perceived male bias. In response, Alice Evans (@_alice_evans, who memorably described Stefan’s list of top development thinkers as a ‘sausagefest’) put together this corrective account of women’s scholarship on development. Across the world, we tend to venerate men as knowledgeable authorities. These gender stereotypes are self-perpetuating: by paying more …

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10 top thinkers on Development, summarized in 700 words by Stefan Dercon

Duncan Green - January 10, 2018

One of the treats of my role at LSE is luring in some great development thinkers to lecture on Friday afternoons, and then sitting in to enjoy the show. Stefan Dercon came in just before the Christmas break and was typically brilliant, witty and waspish. Particularly enjoyable from an outgoing DFID chief economist (as well as Prof at the Blavatnik School of Government and Director …

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A wonderful book by Jean Dreze, India’s Orwell

Duncan Green - November 27, 2017

Notes from my talk at last week’s launch of Jean Drèze’s new book, Sense and Solidarity. Has anyone written Jean Drèze’s biography? If not, why not? A fascinating figure, surrounded by myths and legends (did he really sleep rough in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the square next to LSE, when he was a lecturer there?). He’s a wonderful writer who reminds me of George Orwell, with …

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The Great Leveller: A conversation with Walter Scheidel on Inequality and Apocalypse

Duncan Green - November 14, 2017

When I visited Stanford recently at the invitation of Francis Fukuyama, I also dropped in on Walter Scheidel, an Austrian historian who has taken time off from his main interest (the Romans) to write a powerful, and pretty depressing, book on inequality. Like Fukuyama, Scheidel is a big brain who favours the grand narrative – his book is called ‘The Great Leveller: Violence and the …

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Is Recognition the missing piece of politics? A conversation with Francis Fukuyama

Duncan Green - November 9, 2017

Getting Francis Fukuyama to endorse How Change Happens was one of the high points of publication – he’s been a hero of mine ever since I read (and reviewed) his magisterial history of the state (right). Last week I finally got to meet him, when I took up an invitation to speak to students and faculty at his Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of …

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