THE END OF POVERTY: Economic Possibilities for Our Time
Sachs came to fame advising "shock therapy" for moribund economies in the 1980s (with arguably positive results); more recently, as director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, he has made news with a plan to end global "extreme poverty"—which, he says, kills 20,000 people a day—within 20 years. While much of the plan has been known to economists and government leaders for a number of years (including Kofi Annan, to whom Sachs is special advisor), this is Sachs's first systematic exposition of it for a general audience, and it is a landmark book.
For on-the-ground research in reducing disease, poverty, armed conflict and environmental damage, Sachs has been to more than 100 countries, representing 90% of the world's population. The book combines his practical experience with sharp professional analysis and clear exposition. Over 18 chapters, Sachs builds his case carefully, offering a variety of case studies, detailing small-scale projects that have worked and crunching large amounts of data. His basic argument is that "[W]hen the preconditions of basic infrastructure (roads, power, and ports) and human capital (health and education) are in place, markets are powerful engines of development." In order to tread "the path to peace and prosperity," Sachs believes it is encumbant upon successful market economies to bring the few areas of the world that still need help onto "the ladder of development."
Writing in a straightfoward but engaging first person, Sachs keeps his tone even whether discussing failed states or thriving ones. For the many who will buy this book but, perhaps, not make it all the way through, chapters 12 through 14 contain the blueprint for Sachs's solution to poverty, with the final four making a rigorous case for why rich countries (and individuals) should collectively undertake it—and why it is affordable for them to do so. If there is any one work to put extreme poverty back onto the global agenda, this is it. (Mar. 21)