Book Reviews

I just found a place where smart people take time to discuss books and ideas, and then you can walk in the snow

Duncan Green - March 9, 2017

Spoke at my first literary festival this week – ‘Words by the Water’ in Keswick. I’ve no idea if it was representative of other such events, but it was fascinating. About 100 people showed up to hear me bang on about How Change Happens. They were probably the most un-aid wonk audience I’ve spoken to so far; they were also the oldest – the demographic …

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WDR 2017 on Governance and Law: great content, terrible comms, and a big moral dilemma on rights and democracy

Duncan Green - March 2, 2017

Spoke yesterday at the London launch of the 2017 World Development Report on Governance and The Law. Although Stefan Kossoff did a great job in summarizing the report on this blog a few weeks ago, I thought I’d add a few thoughts from the discussion. The current debates on governance, of which the WDR is part, bear some of the hallmarks of a paradigm shift: widespread …

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How Change Happens + 3 months: how’s it going?

Duncan Green - February 8, 2017

It’s now 3 months since How Change Happens came out (did I mention I’d published a new book?) so I dropped in at the publishers, OUP, last week to take stock. OUP took some risks with this book, notably agreeing to go Open Access from day one. That is a huge leap from the traditional publishing model of publishing only the hardback for a year, then deciding …

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The WDR 2017 on Governance and Law: Can it drive a transformation in development practice?

Duncan Green - January 31, 2017

  Stefan Kossoff (DFID’s governance czar) reviews the new WDR, published this week. For those of us working on governance this week’s publication of the 2017 World Development Report on Governance and Law (WDR17) has been hotly awaited. And I’m pleased to say the report–in all its 280 page glory–does not disappoint (there’s a 4 page summary for the time-starved). As Duncan Green, Brian Levy …

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Is the Anti-Politics machine still a good critique of the aid business?

Duncan Green - January 11, 2017

Just been re-reading a great 6 page summary of James Ferguson’s 1994 classic critique of the aid industry, The Anti-Politics Machine. Read this and ask yourself, apart from the grating use of the term ‘Third World’, how much has changed? ‘Any question of the form ‘what is to be done?’ demands first of all an answer to the question, ‘By whom?’ The ‘development’ discourse, and …

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Book Review: Social Physics : How Social Networks can make us Smarter

Duncan Green - January 6, 2017

My Christmas reading included a book called Social Physics – yep, a party animal (my others were Lord of the Flies and Knausgard Vol 3, both wonderful). Here’s the review: Airport bookstores are bewildering places – shelf after shelf of management gurus offering distilled lessons on leadership, change and everything else. How to distinguish snake oil from substance? My Christmas reading, based on a recommendation …

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‘Odd but Interesting’: Clare Short reviews How Change Happens

Duncan Green - December 20, 2016

Clare Short was DFID’s first minister (1997-2003) and a force of nature (for example she was one of the originators of what became the Millennium Development Goals). Great when she agreed with you, pretty brutal when she didn’t. Which in the case of NGOs, was quite a lot of the time – she had the traditional Labour Left dislike of middle class, self-appointed, self-righteous dogoodery …

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Power, Poverty and Inequality: a ‘love-peeve’ new IDS bulletin

Duncan Green - December 6, 2016

I have something of a love-hate relationship with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Brighton, or more accurately, a love-peeve. I love the topics, the commitment to bottom-up approaches, and the intellectual leadership IDS has shown over the years on a whole range of issues dear to my heart. The peeve stems from its preference for abstruse language and reluctance to commit to the …

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Some highlights from the first 30 book launches for How Change Happens

Duncan Green - November 17, 2016

I’m about six weeks into launching How Change Happens, and am having a great (if knackering) time. Highlights so far include a Kurdish/Dutch guitar combo warming up the crowd in Nijmegen, conversations with an Islamic finance entrepreneur trying to do financial inclusion in South Wales, a great group of women managing a community-run service station on the M5 motorway and a network of ‘social leaders’ …

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Campaigning for Change: Lessons of History. Top new book, free to download

Duncan Green - November 10, 2016

I’ve blogged a couple of times on a fascinating project run by Friends of the Earth and the History and Policy network to bring historians of past campaigns and modern day campaigners together to discuss the lessons of history. The resulting 174 page book is now out and I highly recommend it. The discussion was part of FoE’s Big Ideas Change the World project (why …

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