Summary of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations

Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor

W.W. Norton,
First Edition: 1998 more...

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The Wealth and Poverty of Nations book summary
What determines if a country rich or poor? For starters, check the climate, the geography and the history of innovation.


7 Overall

4 Applicability

7 Innovation

10 Style


David S. Landes has written an extraordinary economic history that will open your eyes about countries’ economic flops and good fortune. He also covers what makes a country achieve - and keep - great economic success. The book will appeal not only to economic history buffs, but also to the average person who needs to know how to keep a company or a country from economic trouble. Not to mention, he offers lots of great cocktail party anecdotes to impress your friends. Landes builds on solid economic data, but his unusual factual nuggets and vivid commentary are what make the book such a pleasure to read. In an age where politicians seek to make sure America stays economically relevant amid huge trade friction, believes this book is a must-read for not just the chief executive officer, but for the rank-and-file workers who want to make sure they will be winners, not losers, in international trade. Landes has cooked up a great feast of economic history. Come, draw up a chair to the table and partake of this rich bounty.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What common concepts underlie economically successful societies
  • What common failures mark poor societies or backward-falling societies
  • How to avoid the economic failures that can afflict any country at any stage of development


A Whistle Stop Tour of World History
World history highlights societies that have done the best at building business, and the ones that remain best at it. These societies followed the prevailing currents of technological advances and became more modern, as seen in the following pivotal...
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About the Author

David S. Landes is professor emeritus at Harvard University. His previous books include Bankers and Pashas, The Unbound Prometheus and Revolution in Time.

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