Wealth And Poverty Of Nations
review by Brad De Long - If there is a single key to success--relative wealth--in Landes's narrative, it is what science fiction writer David Brin calls the dogma of openness (Cultural Pluralism, Open Society)... If there is a second key, it lies in politics: a government strong enough to keep its servants from confiscating whatever they please, limited enough for individuals to be confident that the state is unlikely to suddenly put all they have at hazard, and willing once in a while to sacrifice official splendor and martial glory in order to give merchants and manufacturers an easier time making money... Landes writes his book as his contribution to the project of building utopia--of building a much richer and more equal world, without the extraordinary divergences between standards of living in Belgium and Bangladesh, Mozambique and Mexico, Jordan and Japan that we have today.
Michael Novak review - The irony of this major study of economic development is that its author writes as a complacent secularist and yet his fundamental thesis is theological. One can see this by comparing it to a rival study, in some ways its superior in clarity and theoretical cogency, How The West Grew Rich: The Economic Transformation of the Industrial World (1986). In that book, Nathan Rosenberg and L. E. Birdzell, Jr. stress institutional relationships, such as those between political and economic structures, and between science and markets. But DavidLandes, professor emeritus of history and economics at Harvard, unabashedly stresses culture, especially religion, and in particular, the Judaism that lies behind Christianity... Landes believes that European success required more than Judeo Christian theology, though: "In the last analysis, however, I would stress the market. Enterprise was free in Europe. Innovation worked and paid, and rulers and vested interests were limited in their ability to prevent or discourage innovation."... Nonetheless, I see four flaws in it... Further, on the medieval period to which Landes pays such surprising and welcome attention, and precisely on Max Weber, Landes neglects to treat RandallCollins' key volume, Weberian Sociological Theory (1986). By not paying attention to the work of various students and critics of Weber, Landes falls into the trap of never being very clear about what Weber actually said, and which precise parts of his hypothesis have been overturned or revised in the nearly one hundred years since he wrote.