My goodreads.com friend, Chris Prottas, just posted this interesting review of William Easterly "Quest":
Recently went back and re-read this book. As other reviewers mentioned, I am curious to see what Easterly would say of this more optimistic earlier work, but regardless this text is an excellent, accessible history of economic development in the 20th century. Easterly explains the progression of economic thought and the fate of the 'latest and greatest' foreign aid ideas spurred by ever changing growth theories.
Contrary to some of the spurious one-line reviews below, this book is definitely not the work of a laissez-faire ideologue. Easterly is, however, quite critical of the aid establishment's record (though, once again, optimistic about the potential for aid as poor gov'ts grow increasingly competent and decreasingly corrupt).
Easterly is concerned with economic growth, and he adroitly explains how aid of all shapes and forms has largely failed to positively impact development. If you'd like to see some of the good aid has done, you will have to look to improvements in quality-of-life, not the subject of this book, which can be found in Charles Kenny's draft "The Success of Development." How much credit should go to NGOs and how much to commercial firms who lowered the price of living well through technological innovation is up for debate, but it's important to remember that Easterly is talking specifically about the aid establishment's impact on economic growth.
Highly recommended, along with White Man's Burden, Daron Acemoglu, Douglas North's new book, Dani Rodrik's articles, and yes -- some Collier too! (Just ignore Sachs)
Makes me wonder what books I go back and re-read again and again. Easterly's Quest is one of them. I love to reread sections of old econ textbooks, to be honest. Sometimes for information I have forgotten, but more often for a nostalgic reflection on how my eyes see the text in contrast with how those words felt the first time they hit me. I never studied Mankiw's textbooks, but I taught them, so those feel a little different than the nostalgia of a Samuelson or Granger or Varian or Mas-Colell or Alpha C Chiang. Krugman's popular titles I've reread dozens of times. For fiction, I confess to rereading Memoirs of a Geisha as well as all the novels of Vernor Vinge. Just this weekend, I reread Stephen King's The Stand for the second time, last being in the summer of 1980.
Top five novels:
The Last Ship
Memoirs of a Geisha
A Sense of Honor
The Might Avengers (collected works, 1977-82)