Topic: Book Reviews

Why ‘Why Nations Fail’ Fails (mostly): review of Acemoglu and Robinson – 2012’s big development book

Every now and then, a ‘Big Book on Development’ comes along that triggers a storm of arguments in my head (it’s a rather disturbing experience). One such is Why Nations Fail, by Daron Acemoglu (MIT) and James Robinson (Harvard). Judging by the proliferation of reviews and debates the book has provoked, my experience is widely shared. […]

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Lost in translation: the alienation of the development worker

I’m writing this flying over Afghanistan, on my way back from India (blog flurry to follow). The air is extraordinarily clear, so that even from 30,000 feet, I can make out individual fields, clusters of mud-coloured houses, nestling among the serrated, snow-topped mountains and winding river courses. At the same time, I’m reading ‘Lost in […]

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Can you help promote 'From Poverty to Power'? This won't take long…..

OK, out of consideration for your sensitivities, I’m going to try and condense all the humiliating, grovelling self promotional authorial thing into a single post (OK, I’m lying, but the other promo will be less blatant). The second edition of From Poverty to Power is published on the 23rd October, and as you doubtless know, […]

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Tackling the jobs crisis: new thinking from the World Bank and UNESCO

Oxfam’s head of research, Ricardo Fuentes (right) reviews two big reports on jobs from the World Bank and UNESCO Youth unemployment is making headlines everywhere – and with good reason. One in eight people between 15 and 24 are unemployed and the problem affects rich and poor countries alike. In Spain, almost half of young […]

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Robert Chambers – why don't all development organizations do immersions?

Following on my review of Robert Chambers’ new(ish) book, ‘Provocations for Development’, I’m posting a couple of edited-down excerpts that caught my eye. Today, immersions –  written in 2007 and a nice illustration of how Robert combines both the politics and practicalities of aid work. Immersions can take many forms, but an almost universal feature […]

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Provocations for Development: Superb new collection of Robert Chambers’ Greatest Hits

This is not an impartial review – Robert Chambers is a hero of  mine, part development guru, part therapist to the aid community. His ideas and phrases litter the intellectual landscape. Or ought to: if you don’t recognize some of his major contributions to the development lexicon – ‘hand over the stick’, ‘uppers and lowers’, […]

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How poor people get through crises: some excellent 'rapid social anthropology' from IDS and the World Bank

On Wednesday, I spoke at the launch of a new book, Living Through Crises: How the Food, Fuel and Financial Shocks Affect the Poor, by Rasmus Heltberg, Naomi Hossain and Anna Reva. It’s a joint World Bank and IDS publication, also available for free online. I think it could prove quite influential. The starting point […]

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Campaigners can still learn from the Abolition of Slavery: guest post by Max Lawson

Max Lawson, Oxfam’s head of advocacy, reflects on what today’s campaigners on the Robin Hood Tax (or pretty much anything else) can learn from the anti-slavery movement A global industry, dominated by the UK, providing a third of our GDP. An industry that purchases politicians, and is deeply rooted in the establishment. An industry, formerly revered, […]

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OECD versus Ha-Joon Chang on agricultural policy and poverty reduction: I'm with Chang

A recent launch discussion at Chatham House (but mercifully on the record) on the new OECD book, Agricultural Policies for Poverty Reduction, (powerpoint presentation by author Jonathan Brooks here – keep clicking til it comes up) provides a nice counterpoint to the FAO study discussed over the last couple of days.  The contrast is pretty striking, […]

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Limits to history’s lessons: What’s missing from Ha-Joon Chang’s take on agricultural policy? Guest post by Sally Baden

Sally Baden, Oxfam’s women and agriculture specialist, takes another look at the new book on agricultural policy reviewed yesterday After some lobbying from Duncan, I sat down to read Ha-Joon Chang’s book in January. Sadly reading weighty tomes on agricultural policy is something I don’t have the luxury of doing very often since my younger days […]

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What agricultural policies worked in today's successful economies? Important new book from Ha-Joon Chang

OK, time for a series of posts on agricultural policy. Regular readers will know that I am a huge fan (as well as friend) of Ha-Joon Chang. Routledge recently published a book edited by Ha-Joon that I think is very important indeed. Unfortunately, it’s only come out in very expensive hardback (a snip at £85), […]

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Getting Somalia Wrong and other background reading for today's big conference

On 3 February, the UN declared that there were no longer famine conditions in southern Somalia, but six months since that famine was declared, Somalia is still in the throes of its worst humanitarian crisis in decades. Nearly a third of the population remain in crisis, unable to meet essential food and non-food needs. Key […]

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