Topic: Book Reviews

Book Review: Peter Frase, Four Futures: Life After Capitalism

I’ve never been a big fan of scenario planning. When I’ve done it in the past, it’s usually involved a bunch of former oil and gas planners asking a group of people to identify big trends (which often boil down to what they’ve read in the FT/Economist that week) and then processing them into a […]

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Don’t worry. Be factful: Review of Factfulness, by Hans and Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Rönnlund

Matthew Spencer reviews Hans Rosling’s posthumous manifesto When Hans Rosling, the TED talk phenomenon and professor of international health, was a young doctor in Mozambique in the 1980’s he was berated by a visiting friend and medic for not providing better care for a seriously ill child that been brought into his health clinic. Hans […]

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Book Review: How to be a Craftivist: the art of Gentle Protest, by Sarah Corbett

I spent an idyllic bank holiday recently in a hammock reading How to be a Craftivist: the art of gentle protest. Seemed fitting somehow, as the book is all about ‘slow activism’. Corbett, an award-winning campaigner and lifelong activist whose leftie parents dragged her along on demos from the age of 3, starts with a […]

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Book Review: Why We Lie About Aid by Pablo Yanguas

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, […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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A wonderful book by Jean Dreze, India’s Orwell

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 […]

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

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 – […]

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