Lo! What's this? A dispatch from our long lost co-blogger Bob Litan! Bob has evidently read a new book and, um, I can't really tell, but I think he likes it.
With the widespread concern about how the U.S. economy is going to generate new jobs and output on a sustained basis after the huge stimulus is withdrawn, the time could not be better to read a new book that tells one country’s remarkable story how it has done it. The country is Israel, and the book is appropriately titled Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle by Dan Senor and Saul Singer.
This is such a good book I don’t know where to begin with my raves. It is brilliantly written and chock full of great stories that have long deserved a wider audience, and they’ll now have it. Want to know who saved Intel? Read this book! Want to know how a country with deep socialist roots – the collective farms known as kibbutzes have long been a major symbol of Israeli society (inside and outside the country) – has been fundamentally transformed into one of the hottest entrepreneurial hotbeds in the world? Then read this book! Want to know how this all happened? Read this book!
And after you do that, or actually as you’re reading, questions will inevitably pop into your mind. Most important, at least for me: What can the United States learn from the Israeli experience? Knowing that we don’t or ever will have some of the most important keys to the Israeli success – the external fear of being encircled by hostile countries and thus the need to make-do with whatever resources are available, or compulsory service in a military where privates or lesser officers can tell their superiors they’re wrong – what can we nonetheless do to improve our own entrepreneurial networks and attitudes toward prudent risk-taking that the Israelis seem to have mastered?
Readers surely will not stop there. Many will be tantalized, perhaps upset, by the authors’ comparisons of the Israeli miracle with the struggles that its Arab neighbors have long had attempting to diversify out of oil. Others may wonder, as the authors themselves worry, whether the Israeli entrepreneurial machine will slow down now that the tidal wave of Russian immigrants has receded.
But I'll bet no readers come away from the book without being awed by what Israel has been able to do, and without being impressed by the authors' impressive way of telling this story.