Why Nations Fail

Why Nations Fail: A non-fiction book by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson

The idea to make a review about this book came after watching Benicio Del Toro’s Sicario. However, this book doesn’t deal with drug cartels or homicide or corrupt police. It’s a book on political economy, instead, which elaborates possible reasons of the rise and fall of a nation, why some countries fail while some are so successful though they live in adjacent territory. The movie itself portrays a lot about life around the U.S. – Mexico border in the area of Nogales. The border divides Nogales into two different worlds – Nogales of the U.S. and of the Mexico. Just like Berlin Wall divided Germany into East and West Germany in 1960s.

In this book, Daron Acemoglu has established himself as a distinguished political economy theoretician. The MIT professor on Economics gives thorough introduction supported by historical facts on the evolution of governments. Reading Why Nations Fail feels like reading book on history, then. A big book on history in the eyes of political economy scientist, ranging from the ancient Inca to British Revolution and modern America.

Serves as the most representative introduction on the topic, this book will give you a recipe to what makes a nation strong: The type of political and economic institutions. There are nothing more advantageous, profitable and beneficial than inclusive economic institutions and inclusive political institutions. All resources a nation may have – population, demographic profile, geography, natural resources, climate and weather – mean nothing as long as the nation keeps the presence of extractive political and economic institutions. Daron Acemoglu illustrates this all in an interesting way. In brief details he tells the story of Spanish conquistadors, ancient Inca, British East India Company, conflicts in African countries and the making of modern America.

This book also highlights some notions such as critical junctures, democracy, property rights, and creative destruction. Critics and reasoning have been made to justify the establishment of inclusive political and economic institutions. Unfortunately, Why Nations Fail doesn’t elaborate one success story of the establishment of extractive political institution: Indonesia under Soeharto era. It seems the professor should test his theory in the country.


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