Topic: Book Reviews

The Randomistas just won the Nobel Economics prize. Here’s why RCTs aren’t a magic bullet.

Lant Pritchett once likened Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) to flared jeans. On the way out and soon we’d be wondering what on earth we’d seen in them. Not so fast. Yesterday, three of the leading ‘Randomistas’ won the Nobel economics prize (before the pedants jump in, strictly speaking it’s the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic […]

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No one is objective about poverty: here’s why that matters

Eric Meade consults to nonprofits, foundations, and NGOs and teaches at American University’s School of International Service in Washington, DC. His book, Reframing Poverty: New Thinking and Feeling About Humanity’s Greatest Challenge, invites readers to explore how their emotions about poverty shape their responses to it. We do not like to see other humans suffer. […]

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Naomi Hossain on The Politics of Education in Developing Countries: From Schooling to Learning

I recently caught up with the brilliant Naomi Hossain to discuss her latest book, edited with Sam Hickey, on educational reform in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, and Uganda . Open Access version available here. Do listen to the full 25m chat, but here’s some transcribed highlights for the time-starved. We wanted to look […]

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When democracies die, they die quietly… but what’s the role of Civil Society?

Save the Children’s José Manuel Roche has a book he wants you to read. So, it turns out that nowadays democracy seldom dies through violent coup d’état. More commonly (and insidiously), democracy slides gradually into authoritarianism.  By the same token, democracy survives when democratic leaders fight for it.  This is part of the main thesis […]

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Two new Manuals for Activists, with some useful lessons

I’ve been taking advantage of the summer lull to skim some of the backlog of tomes that have accumulated on my study floor. Some were so bad and/or obscure that they really don’t deserve a mention, but two on activism got my attention. First up, Be the Change by Gina Martin. Full disclosure, I bought […]

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How Change Happens: the podcast

I spoke to Jo Howard from IDS about How Change Happens for their book podcast Between the Lines. Here it is: With podcasts, I always try to provide a blog-length set of excerpts for people who prefer reading to listening, but I honestly couldn’t bear to listen to myself this time. So huge thanks to […]

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Book Review: Civic Activism Unleashed: New Hope or False Dawn for Democracy? by Richard Youngs

This book promised a lot, but only partially delivered. There’s enough substance there to warrant a read, though. The book’s starting point is an upsurge in ‘new activism’ around the world. Robert Putnam’s anomic world of lonely people ‘Bowling Alone’ is looking pretty silly right now. The new activism is very different from the professionalized […]

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Book Review: The Business of Changing the World, by Raj Kumar

I found reading The Business of Changing the World rather disturbing – a bit like being taken hostage by a cult and submitted to polite but persistent brainwashing for several days (I’m a slow reader). The cult in question is what Anand Giridharadas calls ‘MarketWorld’ – an effusive, evangelical belief in the power of markets, […]

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In ‘Winner Takes All’, Anand Giridharadas takes down philanthropy’s ‘MarketWorld’: Book Review

If you’ve ever been irked by the combination of arrogance, platitude, complacency and dismissiveness that often characterizes the private sector-aid complex (philanthropists, management consultants, foundations, impact investors and their groupies across the aid business), then this is the book for you. In Winner Takes All, Anand Giridharadas hangs out at their motivational talks and high […]

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The UK’s new Development Minister, Rory Stewart, is a genuine intellectual – here’s a review of his book on Fragile States and the Failings of Western Intervention

Rory Stewart became the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development on Wednesday. We now have a minister with a genuine commitment to, and knowledge of, international development – for the last two years he has ducked out of his ministerial duties to come to speak to my LSE students. After his first lecture, I […]

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Book Review: Nanjala Nyabola, Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics: How the Internet Era is Transforming Politics in Kenya

Most of the stuff written about online activism is primarily based in the North (eg New Power, which I reviewed recently). So I was v excited to find a book written by a Kenyan (Nanjala Nyabola is a Kenyan writer, humanitarian advocate and political analyst, currently based in Nairobi) about how New Power applies to […]

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Book Review:  Getting to Zero – A Doctor and a Diplomat on the Ebola Frontline

Guest post by Melissa Parker (left) and Johanna Hanefeld  This excellent book provides a fascinating account of the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. It is co-authored by Sinead Walsh, who was Irish Ambassador to Sierra Leone at the time of the outbreak and, Oliver Johnson, a medical doctor, who was based at Connaught Hospital in […]

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