cover image The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World

The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World

Steven Radelet. Simon & Schuster, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4767-6478-8

Radelet, economic adviser to the president of Liberia, succeeds in making a possibly counterintuitive argument: notwithstanding the often depressing nature of news coverage of developing countries, this era has seen the most “progress among the global poor in the history of the world.” He has the statistics to back up this claim: for example, between 1990 and 2015, one billion people escaped “extreme poverty.” He cites similar data with respect to hunger and child deaths. Radelet does not contend that suffering has ended by any means, but his accessible and articulate presentation is likely to convince readers that the story of global development is more complex, and positive, than many believe. His case is buttressed with examples from history, demonstrating that most of humanity was extremely poor (by modern standards) until quite recently, and how slow and gradual the expansion of prosperity has been. He acknowledges that recent trends may not continue, and that despite technological advances, humans might not be able to meet our growing needs for food, water, energy, and other resources in the decades ahead. Nonetheless, this is a refreshing counterperspective that can only enhance informed debate on the topic. [em](Nov.) [/em]