Topic: Book Reviews

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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Three top books on Innovation: what lessons for development agencies?

So since we are always being told to be more innovative (has anyone ever asked you to be less innovative?) I thought I’d see what some innovation gurus have to say. I could pretend this is part of my New Year’s Resolution to read more books and fewer papers, but I’d be lying– I read […]

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Why seasonality is back and that's a good thing

A Welsh friend of mine once came back home after a long stint in Nicaragua. A mate picked him up at the airport and on the long drive back to Cardiff, Alun turned to him and asked ‘so, how’s the harvest been this year?’ His friend looked at him as if he’d gone mad. Which […]

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Science and the Crisis of Uncertainty: Book Review of 'The Blind Spot'

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to read more books and fewer papers – books often push authors deeper, forcing them to identify and develop their underlying assumptions and ideas, whereas papers (whether single or in edited volumes pretending to be books) are often a rehash of their existing thinking, garnished with a dollop of […]

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Delivering Development: Book Review of a study on 'globalization's shoreline'

In ‘Whose Reality Counts’, Robert Chambers caricatures a typical successful career path in development as ‘tying down, moving inwards and moving upwards’. ‘In rural development, professionals gain direct field experience only early in a career if at all’. After the year in an African village (PhD, living with the people etc), or volunteering in a […]

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INGOs in Economic Diplomacy – adapting to a new world order

One of the lectures I most enjoy giving is to the LSE course on Economic Diplomacy, (part of its International Political Economy MSc), where most years I trot along and ramble on for half an hour about International NGOs (INGOs) and advocacy. The questions and discussion that follow are invariably fascinating (for me anyway). The […]

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